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SPOKANE, WASH. — The remains of an Air Force pilot killed in the Vietnam War are being returned to Walla Walla for burial this weekend.
Maj. Larry J. Hanley, 26, was attacking an anti-aircraft position in Laos in 1969 when his plane crashed, according to the Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office. The crash site was found last year, and his remains were identified through a genetic match with Hanley’s mother and sister, the office said this week.
Hanley’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday at Assumption Catholic Church in Walla Walla, and he will be buried with full military honors at Mountain View Cemetery.
Hanley was born Feb. 13, 1943, in Spokane and raised in Walla Walla.
He graduated from Walla Walla High School and went on to attend the University of Washington and Central Washington University, where he became a member of the Air Force ROTC. He graduated from CWU in 1966 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force.
After graduation from flight school, he was assigned to the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing’s 435 Tactical Fighter Squadron at Ubon Air Base in Thailand.
Hanley flew 119 combat missions over Vietnam then returned to the United States. In August 1969, he volunteered to return to Vietnam. When asked by his family why he was volunteering to return, he replied that he was going so some married man would not have to go.
On Nov. 4, 1969, Hanley, an F-105D Thunderchief pilot, was attacking an enemy anti-aircraft position when his aircraft crashed in Khammouan Province, Laos. Neither Hanley’s wingman nor the forward air controller directing the attack witnessed the crash, and the location remained unknown.
Hanley was declared missing in action and in 1979, a military review board amended his status to killed in action. He was posthumously promoted to the rank of major in 1978.
On Feb. 24, 2012, the Joint Prisoner of War Accounting Command received human remains that were found by a resident at a crash site in Khammouan Province.
To identify the remains, military experts used circumstantial evidence and forensic tools, such as dental comparisons and DNA, which matched Hanley’s mother and sister.
The news has brought grief and relief to Hanley’s sisters, JoAnn Aliverti of Walla Walla, and Darlene Allen of Kirkland. Aliverti told the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin she and her sister were “very, very happy this happened,” but the news was also tinged with sadness.