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.

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.

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.

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.

Comments (9)
  1. Cesar A. Cuadra says:

    Dedicated to Duty, Honors and love of Country. Not to be forgotten.

  2. theresa says:

    if you were killed outside of the war zone why no place on the wall. he was there in the navy..what kind of calulation is that ? does that mean if a cop gets killed over county line wrong jurisdiction his name dont qualify either ? how messed up is that ? who was this guy fighting for…????

  3. theresa says:

    good answer ..we stand for those who stood for us ..cheers to good friends and soldiers that fight for us and their friends that fight for them..what good friends ..god bless them lots of blessings for soldiers.

  4. theresa says:

    a true american soldier…sing a song for him to toby…boot in there azz.

  5. Tony says:

    Thanks for hanging in there through much diffulculty to support your friend and veteran who gallantly defended his country.

  6. Elaine M. Roach says:

    My father Harold S. Roach, Jr. was with Gregory Hodson on that fateful day and I also have been trying since 1992 to have my father respectfully honored for his sacrifice. There was also a third man that perished that has not been honored. 40 years later (2004) my son Joel K. Brattain was KIA in Iraq by an IED and the military has honored my son but still not my father. I was only 8 years old and had 2 siblings and my father had served as a Navy Pilot for 10 years. My father had flown multiple missions along the coast of Vietnam in response to the Gulf of Tonkin incident to clear the area prior to bringing in the 7th Fleet just the days before he died…..and apparently the Navy Casualty Officer and the Vietnam Wall criteria says this does not count. I don’t believe this is what the concept of the Vietnam Wall is about and I don’t think the more than 58,000 men that are listed on the wall would agree with this decision. Is there no justice left for these three men that left there families to protect our country?

    1. Bill Spurgin says:

      Forgive me for not responding earlier, as I just came across your note in Facebook. Please fell free to call me anytime and we can start another journey to honor your Father & Son. 916-451-2730. Thank you!

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