Laid to rest?

Airman buried after 43 years, but questions linger

SHIPROCK

Everybody’s congratulating the Victor family on finally getting closure.

And yes, Rudy Redd Victor’s siblings are happy they were finally able to lay their brother to rest, with full military honors, on June 30, 43 years after he disappeared during his leave from Holloman Air Force Base.

But closure? No. Rudy’s burial just unearths a host of painful questions. How did Rudy’s body wind up on a mountainside near Wolf Creek, Montana? Did the woman who reported him missing know more than she let on to police?

And why, for God’s sake, did it take 33 years for U.S. Air Force investigators and the Lewis and Clark County coroner to connect a skull found in 1984 to an airman who had been reported missing 10 years earlier around the same place?

On a darker note, could racism have played a part in what certainly seems a lax investigation? Kenny Victor, Rudy’s younger brother, is a former police officer and not one to call cops racist. He does concede that “backwoods Montana during the AIM movement was probably not the best place for a Native to be.”

The Air Force flew Rudy’s flag-draped casket to Albuquerque on June 29 with a military escort, what they call in Air Force terms “dignified arrival.”

From there shifts of local police and sheriff’s deputies escorted the casket and a procession of Rudy’s surviving siblings and their families home to Shiprock.

“It was really nice,” said Kenny. “All the law enforcement was so respectful, and the people along the route.”

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Categories: News

About Author

Cindy Yurth

Cindy Yurth is the Tséyi' Bureau reporter, covering the Central Agency of the Navajo Nation. Her other beats include agriculture and Arizona state politics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University with a cognate in geology. She has been in the news business since 1980 and with the Navajo Times since 2005, and is the author of “Exploring the Navajo Nation Chapter by Chapter.” She can be reached at editor@navajotimes.com.