By Syma Chowdhry
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It’s a solemn hero’s welcome 45 years in the making, and a bittersweet day for those who knew Major Louis Guillermin.
The 25-year-old went missing in action during the Vietnam War. He was flying a plane over Laos when his aircraft went down.
Guillermin was considered missing in action until his remains were found and identified earlier this year.
He is finally getting a funeral procession now that his remains have been returned to Oxford.
“The days of morning are finished. I hope people will look at this as a celebration of life,” says his ex-wife, Donna Stoyko, his only immediate family member remaining.
Guillermin was an only child who joined the Air Force after college.
“He really did have a very full life. It wasn’t a long life, but it was full,” Donna says.
The two were married less than a year when he went missing, but Donna still remembers what made him special.
“His smile, his sense of humor, his big brown eyes,” she recalls.
Strangers, including a group of school children, lined the streets to show their respect.
“We should be supporting veterans and their families,” says Sallie Rush, one attendee.
“I was totally amazed. I had no idea the community would turn out like this,” Donna says.
Those taking part in the procession say it’s important to welcome home a hero.
“We take care of our own, whether deceased, MIA or POW. That’s what we are all about – we take care of our own,” says James Shrebe, of the Warrior Watch Riders.
Guillermin’s funeral will take place on Saturday morning before his remains are taken to a cemetery to be buried next to his parents’. They passed away decades ago, without ever knowing what became of their son.