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Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
State police and Patriot Guard riders escort the remains of Roy DeWitt Prater to Columbia City on Thursday.

Fallen hero comes home 38 years later

More than 38 years after his helicopter was shot down in Vietnam, a Columbia City soldier returned home on Thursday.

Roy DeWitt Prater, who was 35 at the time, was a member of an air recovery squadron, flying on what was known as a Jolly Green Giant. In what is called the largest search-and-rescue mission in Air Force history, Prater’s craft was among those seeking to rescue a downed lieutenant colonel. The helicopter exploded in the air and crashed on its side and burned. The entire crew perished.

In March, Air Force officials notified his son, Dennis Prater, that his father’s remains had been positively identified.

Prater’s casket was escorted by Indiana State Police and Patriot Guard riders from Indianapolis to Columbia City.

A funeral service will be Saturday.

– Frank Gray