WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published June 09, 2011, 06:52 PM

Browns Valley welcomes home fallen hero

Browns Valley, MN (WDAY TV) - The small town of Browns Valley, Minnesota is preparing for a somber homecoming for one of it's own.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

Air Force Captain Darrell Spinler was just 29 when his attack plane was shot down in Laos back in 1967. His remains were never found, until a special team unearthed them recently.

Tucked below the hills of Sisseton, Browns Valley is quietly welcoming summer after a long hard winter. But news on Main Street this week is sad and celebratory all at the same time.

The town is preparing to finally bring Cpt. Darrell Spinler home. When he left Browns Valley for the Vietnam War back in 1966, it would be the last time his hometown would see him. The much decorated pilot and his plane shot down in Laos. His body not recovered until recently by a special POW/MIA survey team.

Paul Schaunaman - Browns Valley Vietnam Veteran: “I think all the Vietnam Veterans have a special bond, because when we came home that is all we had was each other.”

Browns Valley farmer Paul Shaunaman will be at Spinler's funeral. He feels a connection to the fallen airman. Shaunaman served in Vietnam as well.

Paul Schaunaman - Browns Valley Vietnam Veteran: “I think all vets have a unique bond with each other and a feeling of brotherhood we will never lose.”

They expect hundreds here in Browns Valley next weekend for the funeral. The American Legion, Patriot Guard and people from town who will line main street who will give one final respectful farewell to Capt. Spinler

On the edge of town next Saturday, they will gather at the church, then to this countryside cemetery, where a special engraved stone is already in place. No family remains in town, but it was always Captain Spinler's wish to someday come back home. Soon, a grateful hometown will welcome him, thank him, and finally lay him to rest

The special memorial service which includes military honors and flyover all begin at 9am, Saturday, June 18th in Browns Valley.