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Remains of Vietnam veteran returned home

Marion County's only soldier classified by the Army as missing in action during the Vietnam War has finally has been laid to rest in his hometown.

Staff Sgt. Berman Ganoe Jr. was buried Friday, nearly 33 years after the helicopter he was in was shot down over Cambodia.

Brig. Gen. David C. Godwin, commander of the 53rd Infantry Brigade of the Florida National Guard, delivered the eulogy.

Godwin, a platoon leader in Vietnam, recalled Ganoe's war record and the emotional ties that develop between soldiers who serve together.

"There is a strong bond between Vietnam veterans, and I feel a strong bond with Staff Sgt. Ganoe," he said. "Two months after his death, I was fighting there. I knew many men like him."

Ganoe was a helicopter gunner with the 170th Aviation Company, 52nd Aviation Battalion, 1st Aviation Brigade when his UH-1H Huey was assigned to rescue a reconnaissance team being pursued by enemy troops in Cambodia on March 24, 1970.

The crew made a daring landing to retrieve the patrol team, but the helicopter was hit by enemy fire and crashed. Ganoe was listed as missing in action, presumed dead. His remains were returned to the United States in 1998, but it wasn't until June 2001 that they were positively identified. Ganoe was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star, 16 Air Medals and the Purple Heart.