IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - A local Vietnam veteran recently traveled to Laos to try to find the body of another soldier he first tried to rescue 45 years ago.
Wednesday afternoon, retired Staff Sgt. Leland Sorensen of Aberdeen returned home from his journey with good news: they had managed to recover several identifying objects that belonged to the missing soldier.
As a pararesceman, it was Sorensen's job to rescue distressed pilots, but on one particular day in 1969, he was unable to retrieve a pilot he saw parachute from his plane above the jungles of Laos.
A few months ago, Sorensen got a call from the military asking him to take part in a mission to locate the body, and he obliged.
After three days of searching, Sorensen and others found the pilot's military ID card.
"There I was holding his ID card in my hand and I was surprised. I said, 'Hey guys, this is his,'" said Sorensen.
They also found a nylon pad they believe came from the plane as well as the parachute the pilot wore.
"It was disbelief, amazement, elation. All those feelings that finally after 45 years, we've found this guy," said Sorensen.
Out of respect for the family of the missing pilot, Local News 8 is not releasing his name.