SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Decades of wrangling have finally paid off.

A local man’s campaign for an old high school friend — and Navy pilot — has ended with a new memorial stone in Sacramento’s Capitol Park.

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Lt. Gregory Hodson died in 1964 when his plane crashed into the South China Sea. His body was never recovered.

The crash site was just a couple miles outside of the combat zone in Vietnam, which left his name off memorials for Vietnam casualties, including the Memorial Wall in Washington D.C., according to Bill Spurgin.

“It was the policy of the United States Navy that if you were killed outside the war zone, you were not put on the wall,” Spurgin said.

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Spurgin said he has been fighting for 20 years to get Lt. Gregory recognized, but the Navy said no. The rejections were “pretty rotten,” Spurgin said, but after a number of legal battles, the military finally agreed to place a memorial stone in Lt. Hodson’s honor next to the memorial in Sacramento.

Volunteers from the Patriot Guard, an organization who supports fallen troops, was on hand for the ceremony on Saturday.

“After all these years, we are finally recognizing him,” Spurgin said.

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The Department of Veteran Affairs helped bring the memorial to pass, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars in West Sacramento helped pay for the stone.