MEREDITH — Deborah Crosby was 6 years old the last time she saw her father as he left to serve his country as a Navy pilot.
On Monday, standing at the state’s only memorial to those taken prisoner of war or declared missing in action, Crosby told a small gathering that 51 years after his plane was shot down during a reconnaissance mission over Vietnam, he was brought home for burial.
The remains of Lt. Commander Frederick Peter Crosby were found during an excavation of a field in Thanh Hoa Province, Vietnam, in 2016 and positively identified through DNA testing that matched a blood sample given by his sister 11 years earlier.
Standing just feet from a memorial boulder in Hesky Park overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee in Meredith, Crosby offered her thanks to the people who have stood a weekly vigil at “The Rock” for the past 32 years to raise public awareness that U.S. servicemen who served in Southeast Asia remain unaccounted for.
During brief ceremonies, Carla Taylor of Moultonborough, laid a bouquet of purple lilacs atop the memorial, a natural boulder of Winnipesaukee feldspar and native granite etched with the words, “Let Us Not Forget.”
Bob Jones, of Meredith, a retired physician assistant and a Navy Corpsman who served with the Marines in Vietnam, told the audience that Taylor is the founder of a veterans appreciation group Humble Grunt Work.
“No one gives their life. It was taken in service to their country; that is something we should remember,” said Jones.
“And it is not just that individual but their family who sacrifice from that moment on,” he told the crowd, many who wore masks, with most standing six feet apart.
David Haskell of South Tamworth and Gilbert Mastera of Center Ossipee, planted two black POW/MIA flags on each side of the memorial as Dylan Hurst, 11, of Moultonborough played taps.
It was a subdued Memorial Day holiday weekend. Many public events were canceled due to the threat of COVID-19.
The annual Memorial Day observances held at the N.H. State Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen were canceled, but all graves were decorated with flags.
In Laconia, more than 3,000 American flags were put up in Veterans Square and on the lawn of the First Congregational Church of Laconia, one for each of the local servicemen whose names grace the war memorials on display there.