Joyce Reunites Family of MIA Air Force Captain with Long-Lost Medals and Belongings

Aug 05, 2020
Press
Veterans

 

MENTOR – Today, Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) reunited the family of U.S. Air Force Captain Fielding Wesley Featherston III, who has been MIA since 1969, with his long-lost medals. Joyce’s office was contacted in February 2020 by a veteran whose daughter had found six military medals, among other personal belongings of Captain Featherston’s, while clearing out an old warehouse in Cleveland. After years of being turned away by organizations they thought could help, Joyce’s office was able to get in touch with relatives of Captain Featherston’s within weeks and arrange for the family to be reunited with his medals and belongings that had been lost for 50 years. Members of the Featherston family who attended today’s ceremony include: 

  • Fielding “Wes” Featherston IV, son of Captain Featherston 
  • Diane Featherston, daughter-in-law of Captain Featherston  
  • Fielding Wesley Featherston V, grandson of Captain Featherston 
  • Kimberly Featherston, daughter of Captain Featherston  
  • James Featherston, brother of Captain Featherston  
  • Laurie Featherston, sister-in-law of Captain Featherston 

 
“I was humbled to meet Captain Featherston’s family today and reunite them with his long-lost medals,” said Joyce“Today’s ceremony gave us an opportunity to honor a true American hero. Captain Featherston’s story is a reminder that the freedoms we enjoy are not free…they’re paid for by the brave men and women of our Armed Forces. But the Featherston family, and countless others like them, are proof that it’s not just our men and women in uniform who bear the burden of that sacrifice. It is my hope that being reunited with these medals and other belongings will bring them comfort and help keep the Captain’s memory alive for generations to come.” 
 

“Sacrifice is not just felt by the service member, the family sacrifices as well, and especially gold star families like the Featherstons,” said VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System CEO Jill K. Dietrich, JD, MBA, FACHE. “Events like today’s medal ceremony and monuments like the Gold Star Families Memorial by the Cleveland VA Medical Center are important to help us honor the legacy of service and continue to support the families of our nation’s heroes.”  

 

Featherston was born on December 3, 1942. He attended Wickliffe High School, where he became the valedictorian in 1960, and joined the United States Air Force in 1963. He served in the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 432nd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing. On December 30th, 1969, Captain Featherston took off for an armed reconnaissance mission over Laos. During the mission, his plane went down near an enemy storage facility. Unfortunately, enemy activity in the area prevented a ground search for survivors or remains. 

 

To this day, Captain Featherston remains one of the nearly 600 Americans lost in Laos and is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. He later became the adopted son of the City of Wickliffe in 1972. During the six years he actively served in the U.S. Air Force, Captain Featherston earned the Silver Star Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, and the Purple Heart Medal. All of these medals were formally returned to the Featherston family today by members of the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Honor Guard. 

 

“I want to thank my staff and the members of the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Honor Guard for helping make this reunion possible and also Ms. Jill Dietrich, the VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System Executive Director, for joining us for this special occasion and ensuring the families of nation’s heroes have the support they need and have earned,” said Joyce

 

You can view the ceremony here

 

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