Leading Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean arrived in Honolulu today to attend a special ceremony at Hickam Air Force Base, marking the return of what is believed to be the remains of his late brother. Four caskets arrived at Hickam from Laos, where the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command believes Charles Dean was killed nearly 30 years ago. “I hope that the families of every POW/MIA are as fortunate as we have been in locating their lost loved ones,” the candidate said in a statement.
The island visit was arranged by Dean’s family, and no official campaign events are scheduled.
“This has been a long and emotional journey for my mother, Jim, Bill and me,” Dean said today. “We greet this news with mixed emotions but are gratified that we have closure for this painful episode in our lives.”
Another set of remains headed for Hawaii’s specialized forensic identification lab is believed to be that of Australian Neil Sharman. Charles Dean and Sharman who were civilians but likely suspected by Laos officials as spies were likely executed together in December 1994, according to the command.
The remains were recovered earlier this month during an excavation in central Laos. Dean had visited Laos in February of last year to visit a rice paddy where the command concluded he was buried. “[It was] very difficult being at the place, after not seeing my brother for 27 years,” Dean told the Associated Press at the time.
More than 400 other Americans are still accounted for in Laos, only part of the nearly 2,000 Americans missing in Southeast Asia.