JEFFERSON BARRACKS NATIONAL CEMETERY (KTVI) – Though the Vietnam War ended four decades ago, one family finally said goodbye Friday to a loved one killed overseas.
Air Force Technical Sgt. Louis Clever was laid to rest Friday afternoon. Clever’s son, Paul, made sure the remains of his father and others in his dad’s squadron made it back home. It’s been a long battle to make that happen.
Scores of Patriot Guard Riders escorted Sgt. Clever and his family to the cemetery. The Patriot Guard does this many times a month for troops who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Still, each funeral touches them deeply. Bob Smith is one of the riders.
“We stand for those who stood for us. In this case we’re here for Sgt. Clever, because he stood for us 40 years ago,” Smith said.
St. Louisan Donna Nasalroad, another rider, added, “It does get sad and at the same time it brings us happiness to be here for the families – to support them.”
Clever and nine others were shot down over Laos in 1969 during a secret mission. They were listed as missing in action. Clever’s son asked the military to reopen the case to locate the remains, but his request was denied. Paul was only six when his father was killed.
“I just have faint ghost memories (of him),” Paul said.
Three years ago, Paul and his wife traveled to Laos and found the crash site in the jungle and recovered the remains of his father and others as well.
Vietnam veteran Lonnie Nasalroad attended Friday’s funeral.
“Lost many a friend over there and anybody we can see returned that was never found is a good thing,” he said.
Paul Clever said his work is not over.
“Once you’ve brought bones home, it gets in your blood,” he said.
Paul said he has more missions scheduled to bring home other troops who are reported missing.
Paul said Friday was not a sad day, but a day to pay tribute to a special man who gave his life for our country.
“If there’s one word to describe today it’s celebrating a life well-lived,” he said.
Sgt. Louis Clever now rests beside his wife.