A memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia brought some closure — but no answers — to a family mystified about the fate of their father and grandfather during the Korean War.
Capt. Osborne Tommee Carlisle received military rites Friday morning, providing some relief to his family after decades of questioning his disappearance and grieving his loss when the B-29 bomber he was piloting crashed in South Korea following an engine fire during a mission on Feb. 28, 1952. Lisa Carlise and Sandy Gonzales of Tempe and their older sister Karen Carlisle of Portland, Ore., were 5, 7 and 8 years old and living in California with their mother when their father disappeared. They have never known what happened to him.
"We’ve been going through this for 52 years," Lisa Carlise said, her voice cracking with emotion during an interview by cell phone from the cemetery Friday afternoon.
The daughters began attending military briefings about POWs and MIAs in Washington, D.C., in 2000, on the chance they might learn something about their father’s fate, Carlisle said.
In June last year, during one of the briefings, she said, an official with the Air Force Mortuary Service asked Carlise and Gonzales if they would like to have an official memorial service. The two sisters were excited about a fitting tribute for their father, and they agreed, Carlisle said.
Todd Rose of the mortuary service in San Antonio made the necessary arrangements. Rose was unavailable for comment and efforts to reach Air Force representatives were unsuccessful.
"We got a lot of peace today by having this memorial service," Carlisle said.
Carlisle and Gonzales attended Scottsdale High School in 1959, and all three sisters graduated from Arcadia High School in the early 1960s.
Gonazles’ daughter, Ailey Gonzales, 30, of Scottsdale said the experience of attending her grandfather’s memorial service was "incredible."
"I didn’t even know what to think when this happened," she said. "It brought some closure for my mom."
Osborne Carlisle and his crew were on a mission from Yakota Air Force Base in Japan and had flown over North Korea. As the crew was returning to Japan, fire broke out in an engine, Karen Carlisle said.
The plane reportedly went down near the 39th parallel, she said.
"My father gave the order for his crew to bail out, but no one saw him bail out," she said.
Seven crewmen were rescued, the bodies of two others were found near the crash site, but her father was missing, she said.
The family held out hope that Carlisle might be alive. The Air Force informed the family of a rumor that Carlisle was sighted at a prisoner of war camp, but that was never confirmed, Karen Carlisle said.
"We were absolutely sure he would be found, and come back some day," she said, adding she kept up hope until the Vietnam War ended. The family’s hope waned with time but, "We still hope there will be remains found of my father."
Osborne Carlisle was born Feb. 27, 1917, on a ranch in Onalaska, Texas. He entered the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II and trained to become a pilot, Karen Carlisle said. He met his wife, Patricia Dooley Carlisle, while stationed at Williams Field in Mesa, and the couple married in 1941. She died in 1976.
"It was the most spectacular memorial I have ever seen," said Kathryn Morrison of Arlington, Va., a niece of Osborne Carlisle. "My family has been waiting for this for half a century."