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Living with hope and heartache: Woman's fight to bring brother's remains back from Vietnam

Donald Joe Hall (KTUL)

For 50 years, Louise Morgan has lived with hope and heartache.

“You don’t really come to terms with that. The thing is, I mean, to this day, I think some of these days he may show up at my door,” said Morgan.

The man she would give anything to see again is her big brother, Donald Joe Hall.

In 1955, Donald Joe enlisted in the United States Air Force. When U.S. troops were sent to Vietnam, he was with the 38th Air Rescue and Recovery Squadron. He became a big brother to dozens of soldiers he helped rescue.

“I told him to take care and that I loved him. He told me he loved me, that’s the last time I’ve seen him,” said Morgan.

On Feb. 6, 1967, Donald Joe and his crew learned a pilot had crashed near the Mu Gia Pass. Officials told them not to go, it was too rainy and too dangerous.

“These guys jumped up and said 'you don’t have to send us, we’re going',” said Morgan.

After successfully rescuing the pilot, Donald Joe’s helicopter was hit. It caught fire and crashed.

“They told me he was missing in action, the didn’t say he passed away or anything like that. He was an MIA,” said Morgan.

To this day, more than 50 years later, Chief Master Sgt. Donald Joe Hall is still missing in action.

For Morgan, he’s neither dead nor alive, just gone.

“After all this time, I want him to be in heaven,” said Morgan.

It’s not just airmen like Morgan's brother who are still missing in action. There are more than 80,000 American servicemen who still haven’t come home.

“It makes me sick, I want to cry. I’m a 72-year-old man, it makes me want to cry,” said Willard Morgan.

Willard has watched his wife, Louise, wonder about her brother’s fate for decades. He understands the loss and the pain. Willard served in Vietnam too.

“We may argue among ourselves, we’re all one, we’re a band of brothers,” he said.

A band of brothers the government is now trying desperately to find. In 2015, the defense POW MIA Accounting Agency was created. Right now, they’re working on recovering servicemen from the glaciers of Alaska to jungles in the South Pacific.

“It means he was a hero, and didn’t want any credit for it,” said Morgan.

A row of medals line the box next to Louise. They are tokens of her brother’s bravery during his 12 years of service. Of the many medals her brother was awarded, she’s proudest of two. Hall was awarded two Silver Star medals, given for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States.

“I see him every time I salute the flag,” said Morgan.

While the flag is a symbol of the freedom for which her brother fought, it’s also a reminder that he still hasn’t come home.

Chief Master Sgt. Donald Joe Hall was inducted into the Oklahoma Military Department Hall of Fame in 2016.

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