Dean travels to Hawaii to recover brother’s remains

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(Host) Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean is traveling to Hawaii to recover the remains of his late brother Charlie.

A full repatriation service will be held this afternoon (Wednesday afternoon).

Dean says the service will be painful but will help provide important closure for his family.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) Military officials notified Dean several weeks ago that they believed they had uncovered the remains and some personal effects of his brother Charlie – a subsequent check of dental records confirmed their analysis.

Charlie Dean, who was 16 months younger than the governor, was taken prisoner in 1974 while traveling with a friend in Laos.

Six months later the Dean family was notified that Charlie Dean had been murdered by Communist forces in Laos and most likely buried near a rice paddy.

Since that time, Howard Dean has worn one of Charlie’s belts every day to honor his younger brother.

The governor says the repatriation ceremony is an important moment for the Dean family.

(Dean) It’s going to be very painful but it’s also closure. I’m very glad. I think the military has been just incredible. I think oftentimes in the struggle for families of POWs and MIAs there’s been a lot of friction because the tension and pain is so great, losing somebody and then not knowing what really happened, or where they really are. You never get the closure. and although bringing home remains is grim. it’s better to have them home.

(Kinzel) Last year Dean visited Laos in an effort to locate his brother’s remains. Although the trip was not successful, Dean says it was a very important journey for him to make.

(Dean) I was fairly sure that there weren’t going to be any remains. They all had been bulldozed away and shattered. I was very surprised when they found the site, but the military is unbelievable about this. They are thorough. I went to five POW/MIA sites when I was over there and actually helped in the excavations. They have anthropologists there. They stake everything off with a grid. They know exactly what they’re doing. They don’t quit until they’re absolutely sure within reasonable certainty that they can’t find anything.

(Kinzel) Included with Charlie Dean’s remains are a sock, a pair of shoes and a bracelet.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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