Dorothy Boyer, mother of an MIA soldier

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"I haven't been everywhere but it's all on my list."

 

Dorothy Boyer

Holding On To Hope
Dorothy Boyer's son, Alan, went missing in March of 1968. For over 40 years she has supported the POW/MIA movement for decades now, hoping her son may still be alive. Read her story or there's a link at the bottom of the page and you'll be directed to VietNow.com.
 
Story by Tara Lynn Johnson – Photo by Ken Nelson
 
NOTE: Dorothy Boyer died May 2, 2013 at the age of 92. Now she and her husband are reunited with their son. God Bless them. Here's pictures of Dorothy's Celebration of Life from May 2013.
 
 
Dorothy Boyer, mother of Sgt. Alan C. Boyer
Dorothy Boyer’s voice fills with love when she talks about her son, Alan, a Green Beret who disappeared in Southeast Asia in 1968. She wistfully remembers the boy he was and the man he never became.“
 
You still think of the person as you last saw him. I still see Alan as a young kid,” she said. “He was a great kid. We had high hopes for him.”
 
Alan Went Missing While On a Secret Mission in Laos
The 85-year-old still believes it’s possible he might be alive. Alan disappeared at age twenty-two, in Laos, while on a secret mission – and for more than thirty-seven years, since March 28, 1968, Dorothy has hoped he might come home.
 
Sgt. 1st Class Alan Boyer’s Army career began while he was studying forestry at the University of Montana. A recruiter got ahold of him, Dorothy said, so he decided to quit college after two and a half years.
 
Dorothy and her husband, Charles, weren’t enthusiastic about his decision when he asked them about it during his Christmas vacation, but they supported him. Alan wasn’t sure if forestry was the right career, and he thought he could make a difference through military service.
 
“He joined before the protests, so there was still a feeling of we need to be over there, we need to help, we need to save democracy,” she said. “He was a very idealistic young man.”
 
Once in the Army, Alan applied to be a Green Beret. It was on a mission with the elite group that he disappeared. For five years, Dorothy waited for more information from military officials.
 
He was missing in Southeast Asia. That was all we knew,” she said. “He couldn’t say where he was and, after, they wouldn’t tell. I still really don’t know what he was doing.”
 
She later found out that Alan had been shot at or fell from a ladder suspended from the helicopter sent to rescue him and two other soldiers.
 
Remaining Hopeful
After hearing that part of the story, Dorothy and Charles were hopeful that Alan was still alive.“
 
It was far better hearing that than hearing he was killed. We had hope for years,” she said.
 
Dorothy said she was naive and didn’t ask enough questions, but she was in shock after being told her only son was missing. She would have loved to talk to the helicopter pilot, but his name was classified. Twenty years after Alan disappeared, Dorothy learned the name of the pilot.
 
Unfortunately, she also was told that he was dead. Another glimpse of hope, another chance to gain more information evaporated. As the years went on, she grew increasingly frustrated not to have all the information she craved. As Dorothy describes it, “They just kept saying, ‘That’s all we can tell you.’”
 
In time, Dorothy contacted the relatives of the other two servicemen. She met one serviceman’s wife in Washington once, and has met his brother in the past few years. Dorothy talked to the mother of the other soldier years ago, but she wanted no part of anything. “She just said, ‘I’m writing him off he’s gone,’” Dorothy said.
 
Dorothy didn’t write Alan off, and despite the emotional roller coaster – going from hoping he would come home to believing he never would, to getting a sliver of information that made it seem possible, to hearing that search crews and excavators had found nothing – Dorothy believes there’s a chance he might be alive. “You never know,” she said.
 
She said Alan’s disappearance was especially difficult for her husband. At military briefings in Chicago, Charles would get emotional watching people ask officials why they couldn’t know more or why the military couldn’t do more. “He couldn’t take it,” she said. Her want and need to know enabled her to persevere, though.
 
Charles died ten years ago, never knowing officially if Alan was alive or dead. When Dorothy told her daughter Judi that Charles had passed away, she said, “Well, now he’ll know what happened to Alan.”
 
Dorothy doubts that Alan is being held in Southeast Asia somewhere. “This many years later, I don’t hold out much hope,” she said – not much hope, but she believes anything is possible.
 
Investigation Continues – Without Much Result
After the prisoners came home in 1973, military officials did investigate and interview some witnesses. With Vietnamese and Laotian cooperation, use of coordinates, and knowledge of site witnesses who claimed they saw three soldiers buried, a search team scoured and excavated the area. Nothing was found.
 
Three excavations later, all that was found was a tooth, Dorothy said, and one serviceman was identified.“ Whether this was there – a tooth could be any place,” she said. “The fact was that they did say they did bury them. The time the witness gave was right about the same time that the incident happened.”
 
Dorothy seems exasperated when detailing the helicopter search for her son. “After the helicopter flew away and left them there, it came back for a search and found nothing. But they had gone to the wrong place, we found out later,” she said. “They finally got the right coordinates, but found nothing. No remains, no fresh grave site.”
 
Dorothy believes that there are records the U.S. hasn’t seen. “It’s still very nebulous. There’s absolutely no way to know,” she said. The not knowing is the worst part for Dorothy – there’s no finality."
 
If you know, and you have definite proof, you can deal with it,” she said. “If you just don’t know – it would have been easier to accept death.”Dorothy refuses to join the Gold Star Mothers, a group for moms of slain soldiers. “They ask me every year,” she said. “I’m eligible, but – when I have definite positive proof, I will.”
 
Dorothy speaks with pride about her son’s time in the military: he was learning Vietnamese and took his job seriously. He thought he might have a career in the Army and wanted to be a team leader. She framed and displays his silver star and purple heart with a half a dozen other medals. She also has a bust that an artist friend made of Alan.
 
Dorothy continues to attend meetings with families whose loved ones suffered a similar fate to her son, who’s just one of the 1,834 soldiers missing or otherwise unaccounted for.
 
Dorothy Boyer and VietNow
She’s a member of the Rockford Charter Chapter of VietNow, and participates in ceremonies to honor veterans there. She’s grateful for the organization’s support.“
 
They are just the most wonderful group of people. I’m thrilled to pieces to be a part of them. They have been good to me,” she said. “Their hearts are so big for helping people and helping veterans. There’s such camaraderie.”
 
The Rockford VietNow chapter, in Rockford, Illinois, where Dorothy lives, named their meeting hall after Alan, and they call her VietNow’s POW/MIA Mom. She’s touched.
 
She enjoys being with members even though sometimes it makes her sad. “I look at the VietNow guys now and think, well, that’s how old Alan would be,” she said. “He could’ve been married, he could’ve had kids, but it was not to be.”
 
Annually, she attends the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia conference in Washington, D.C. She has been to the nation’s capitol many times. She even attended the groundbreaking for The Wall, in March, 1982.
 
It was cold, and the ground was covered with snow. Even though her daughter’s leg was in a cast, the two of them were not going to miss that event. They shivered and hobbled along the wooden sidewalk near where The Wall would eventually go up. They did it for Alan.
 
Dorothy has visited Arlington National Cemetery where Alan’s half-marker signifying his POW/MIA status rests, although now he’s officially listed as KIA/PFOD (killed in action/presumptive finding of death). Alan’s case officially has been closed, although not permanently. There is no further pursuit, she said, but if something comes up, the military will investigate. She appreciates what the Army has done, but the support of other families who are still waiting, as she is, is what has enabled her to go on for all these years.
 
“They’re in the same boat I am. Some have had their remains returned, but they still come to meetings,” she said. “The parents are all getting older. Some are no longer here or not able to travel, so the sons and daughters are active now.”
 
Dorothy said it’s kind of like an extended family. “It’s a very exclusive group of people that nobody asked to be a part of."
 
Dorothy Boyer Will Never Give Up
Every year, she attends a POW/MIA recognition ceremony during which the names of the missing are read. She flies a black and white POW/MIA flag along with an American flag outside her home, too. Dorothy thinks it’s important to keep the issue in people’s minds.“There’s still a lot that can be done. We give recognition to anybody who is possibly still a prisoner. There is no proof that there aren’t any prisoners,” she said.
 
Just as she never has, Dorothy said people can’t give up. The government needs to put more pressure on the Vietnamese to provide access to records. More cases could be solved if light was shed on some things, she said.For many years she has hoped for Alan’s safe return.
 
For years, prisoners came home and her family waited. After all these years, Dorothy feels that there might not be any more information.“But you never know,” she said. “Until there’s a final accounting, I still have hope, even if it’s slim."
 
Dorothy Boyer died May 2, 2013 at the age of 92. Now she and her husband are reunited with their son. God Bless them.
 
To see this story as it appeared in Vietnow magazine click here. A special thanks to VietNow magazine for allowing us to use this story.

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if (typeof(lpcurruser) == 'undefined') lpcurruser = ''; if (document.getElementById('lpcurruserelt') && document.getElementById('lpcurruserelt').value != '') { lpcurruser = document.getElementById('lpcurruserelt').value; document.getElementById('lpcurruserelt').value = ''; } if (typeof(lpcurrpass) == 'undefined') lpcurrpass=''; if (document.getElementById('lpcurrpasselt') && document.getElementById('lpcurrpasselt').value != '') { lpcurrpass = document.getElementById('lpcurrpasselt').value; document.getElementById('lpcurrpasselt').value = ''; } var lploc="1";var lponlyfill=null;var _p = document.getElementById('login-input-password'); if (_p && _p.type == "password") { _p.focus(); _p.value = lpcurrpass; _p.blur(); } var _u = document.getElementById('login-input-email'); if (_u && _u.type =="text") { _u.focus(); _u.value = lpcurruser; _u.blur(); } if (lploc==3 && typeof(lponlyfill)!='undefined' && !lponlyfill) { // 4.5sec to work around ajax on site setTimeout(function() { var _s = document.getElementById('login-action-go'); if (_s){ _s.focus(); _s.click();} } , 4500); }lpcurruser = ''; lpcurrpass = '';if (typeof(lpcurruser) == 'undefined') lpcurruser = ''; if (document.getElementById('lpcurruserelt') && document.getElementById('lpcurruserelt').value != '') { lpcurruser = document.getElementById('lpcurruserelt').value; document.getElementById('lpcurruserelt').value = ''; } if (typeof(lpcurrpass) == 'undefined') lpcurrpass=''; if (document.getElementById('lpcurrpasselt') && document.getElementById('lpcurrpasselt').value != '') { lpcurrpass = document.getElementById('lpcurrpasselt').value; document.getElementById('lpcurrpasselt').value = ''; } var lploc="1";var lponlyfill=null;var _p = document.getElementById('login-input-password'); if (_p && _p.type == "password") { _p.focus(); _p.value = lpcurrpass; _p.blur(); } var _u = document.getElementById('login-input-email'); if (_u && _u.type =="text") { _u.focus(); _u.value = lpcurruser; _u.blur(); } if (lploc==3 && typeof(lponlyfill)!='undefined' && !lponlyfill) { // 4.5sec to work around ajax on site setTimeout(function() { var _s = document.getElementById('login-action-go'); if (_s){ _s.focus(); _s.click();} } , 4500); }lpcurruser = ''; lpcurrpass = '';if (typeof(lpcurruser) == 'undefined') lpcurruser = ''; if (document.getElementById('lpcurruserelt') && document.getElementById('lpcurruserelt').value != '') { lpcurruser = document.getElementById('lpcurruserelt').value; document.getElementById('lpcurruserelt').value = ''; } if (typeof(lpcurrpass) == 'undefined') lpcurrpass=''; if (document.getElementById('lpcurrpasselt') && document.getElementById('lpcurrpasselt').value != '') { lpcurrpass = document.getElementById('lpcurrpasselt').value; document.getElementById('lpcurrpasselt').value = ''; } var lploc="1";var lponlyfill=null;var _p = document.getElementById('login-input-password'); if (_p && _p.type == "password") { _p.focus(); _p.value = lpcurrpass; _p.blur(); } var _u = document.getElementById('login-input-email'); if (_u && _u.type =="text") { _u.focus(); _u.value = lpcurruser; _u.blur(); } if (lploc==3 && typeof(lponlyfill)!='undefined' && !lponlyfill) { // 4.5sec to work around ajax on site setTimeout(function() { var _s = document.getElementById('login-action-go'); if (_s){ _s.focus(); _s.click();} } , 4500); }lpcurruser = ''; lpcurrpass = '';if (typeof(lpcurruser) == 'undefined') lpcurruser = ''; if (document.getElementById('lpcurruserelt') && document.getElementById('lpcurruserelt').value != '') { lpcurruser = document.getElementById('lpcurruserelt').value; document.getElementById('lpcurruserelt').value = ''; } if (typeof(lpcurrpass) == 'undefined') lpcurrpass=''; if (document.getElementById('lpcurrpasselt') && document.getElementById('lpcurrpasselt').value != '') { lpcurrpass = document.getElementById('lpcurrpasselt').value; document.getElementById('lpcurrpasselt').value = ''; } var lploc="1";var lponlyfill=null;var _p = document.getElementById('login-input-password'); if (_p && _p.type == "password") { _p.focus(); _p.value = lpcurrpass; _p.blur(); } var _u = document.getElementById('login-input-email'); if (_u && _u.type =="text") { _u.focus(); _u.value = lpcurruser; _u.blur(); } if (lploc==3 && typeof(lponlyfill)!='undefined' && !lponlyfill) { // 4.5sec to work around ajax on site setTimeout(function() { var _s = document.getElementById('login-action-go'); if (_s){ _s.focus(); _s.click();} } , 4500); }lpcurruser = ''; lpcurrpass = '';

Judy Boyer Bouchard,
Alan's sister.

 

Here is a photo of my POW/MIA flag. I have flown the flag for many years, in order to honor my brother, SFC Alan L. Boyer, MIA, Laos, March 28, 1968, as well as all other POW/MIAs. When people stop to inquire about the "black flag," I am pleased to be able to spread awareness of this issue.

 

My mother, Dorothy Boyer, now 89 years old, has flown her POW/MIA flag (and American flag, of course) for as long as I can remember. Her picture has already appeared in the VietNow National Magazine. I'm glad to carry on the tradition.--Judy Boyer

 

Our thanks to Vietnow magazine for permission to use this photo and article.

 

To read the full story about POW/MIA flags in Vietnow National magazine click here.

LOCATED AT:

LZ Peace Memorial @

Midway Village Museum

6799 Guilford Road

Rockford, Illinois 61107

Thanks for caring.

© 2014 Vietnam Veterans Honor Society

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Vietnam Veterans Honor Society, PO Box 4304, Rockford, IL 61110   Phone:  Nick Parnello  815-968-1040

Vietnam Veterans Honor Society is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization and contributions are tax deductible to the extent of the law.

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