Navy pilot killed in Vietnam more than 50 years ago will be posthumously honored at Queens Memorial Day march

File photo/Inset courtesy of the Little Neck Douglaston Memorial Day Parade

The 91st Little Neck Douglaston Memorial Day Parade this May will pay special tribute to a Navy pilot who was killed during the Vietnam War and missing in action for nearly 50 years.

Lieutenant Commander Frederick Peter Crosby will be recognized as the parade’s honorary grand marshal. His daughter, Deborah Crosby, and other family members will represent him as leaders of the Little Neck Douglaston march — regarded as the largest Memorial Day parade in the country — on May 28.

According to parade organizers, Lieutenant Commander Crosby served with the Light Photographic Squadron 63 stationed on board the USS Bon Homme Richard during the Vietnam War, flying reconnaissance missions over North Vietnam. On June 1, 1965, Crosby’s unarmed RF-8 plane was shot down while on a mission over the North Vietnamese province of Thanh Hoa.


The U.S. Navy declared that he was missing in action and presumed dead; Crosby was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. It would take the Crosby family nearly 50 years of endless research before finally being able to find Lieutenant Commander Crosby and bring him home.

In October of 2015, a local villager who witnessed Crosby’s plane go down directed investigators to a pond, where human remains were subsequently found. The investigators also located Crosby’s wedding ring and persona lighter. The remains were recovered, and through DNA testing conducted with the help of his sister, Sharon, forensic scientists determined that the remains were Lieutenant Commander Crosby’s.

Crosby was laid to rest last Memorial Day weekend at Fort Rosencrans National Cemetery in San Diego with his children Deborah, Douglas, Steven and John. His tombstone also bears the name of his wife, Mary, who died in 2002.

“We are particularly humbled by Lieutenant Commander Crosby’s ultimate sacrifice, by all of the fallen and by all of those who protect us today and in the past,” said Little Neck Douglaston Parade Co-chair Charles W. McBride.

In addition to honoring Crosby, the parade will also honor members of the New York State Air National Guard 106th Rescue Wing, which is based in Westhampton Beach, Long Island. Air Force Colonel Michael W. Bank will represent the wing, which recently lost four members — including two active New York City firefighters with Queens connections — in a helicopter crash in Iraq.

The West Point Marching Band will be featured among the many participating bands, and Councilman Paul Vallone will be recognized as the parade committee’s Man of the Year.

The Little Neck Douglaston Memorial Day Parade will take place, rain or shine, at 2 p.m. on May 28. Marchers will step off from the corner of Northern Boulevard and Jayson Avenue in Great Neck, then head west along Northern Boulevard to 245th Street in Douglaston.

Visit the parade’s official website for further details.

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