Colonel Robert J. Welch M.I.A.

robert j welchOn this Memorial weekend, I’d like to share a story about a US Airforce pilot, shot down in Vietnam and his M.I.A. status.

Recently, this family I grew up with, learned the latest on case number 0566 from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, of husband and father Colonel Robert J. Welch missing in action in Vietnam since 1967.

(Click through to hear his story).

I don’t need to tell you that the Vietnam war was a hard war. Not that any war is easy. But our country struggled with conflicting feelings about the war and many returning military were not welcomed home with open arms of love and thanks for service to their country. For those whose loved ones did not come home, they have had a long road to closure. It took many years following the war for wounds between the U.S. and Vietnam to heal and for any investigations into finding our MIA to begin. That’s a long time to start following up on information from the Vietnamese military, village accounts and US military intelligence.

Emotions can be just below the surface when the subject comes up. And for a woman who lost her husband 49 1/2 years ago and who kept POW/MIA’s in the forefront through community activities, numerous media interviews and pure sweat and tears, it’s taken this long to have an extended conversation without choking up.

The story that follows is a recent conversation with Marsha Welch, wife of Robert and mother of their two children. She never remarried and has been devoted to his memory and those of other M.I.A.’s and their families. Her faith, children, 14 grandchildren and their children have helped her lead a joyful life, despite a lot of heartache.