BILLINGS - Wyoming native and Vietnam War Veteran First Lieutenant Alva Krogman finally came home after over 50 years.

The odds of making it home alive from Vietnam weren't very good, and every mother who said goodbye to her son knew that.

For Lou Krogman, that statistic didn't matter. She held out hope for her son to come home for almost 30 years.

"Grandma, 'til her dying day, wanted to keep her house just so she could have a place for him if he came home," Lieutenant Krogman's niece, Kelly Steindorf, said.

Steindorf was only six years old when her uncle's plane was shot down over Laos. The only way she was able to keep his memory alive was through pictures.

Not knowing if he would ever come home, those memories are all they could cling to for decades.

Lieutenant Krogman was one of over 2,600 Americans lost and unaccounted for during the Vietnam War. Now, thanks to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, he was returned home and will soon be placed in final resting place.

He was found in February 2020, and it was on July 7, 2020, when Steindorf got the news that it was her uncle.

One year and two weeks later, Lieutenant Krogman came home and will be honored for his bravery and sacrifice.

"Who knows if we should've been there or not, but they were there and there were a lot of them lost and a lot of them disabled. And yes, they need to be honored for their service, just as much as all the current soldiers do today," Steindorf said.

The discovery of Lieutenant Krogman's remains not only brought her closer to her uncle, but also reconnected Stiendorf with family and friends.

It's something her grandmother was hoping for, but never got to see. Lou Krogman passed away in 1990, not knowing if her son would ever come home.

"I feel like I have been mourning for her, but I have to do my own mourning now. She's up there with him having a party," Steindorf said.

Lieutenant Krogman will be laid to rest next to his mom and dad, in the same spot his mother saved for him, just in case she ever saw this day.

A visitation and formal service will be held July 21, followed by escorting of the first lieutenant to his final resting place at Riverview Memorial Gardens.

The community is welcome and encouraged to attend the services.

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