By Spencer Christiano
The true story of Lt. Col. Joseph Christiano, the Rochester veteran who was missing in action for 46 years.
On Christmas Eve, 1965, the Christiano family of Rochester, New York was informed that their patriarch, Joseph, was aboard a “Spooky 21″ gunship when it was shot down that morning during an armed reconnaissance flight over Laos. While the United States government and the Christiano family tireless searched for him over the following 46 years, no further contact was to be had with Joe or any of the other five men aboard the gunship.
But on Easter Sunday, 2012, the Christiano family was notified that 98 teeth and bone fragments, a watch, a ring, and pennies had been recovered from a crash site in Laos. Some of the tooth fragments were proven through dental records to belong to M.Sgt. Larry Thorton, one of the “Spooky 21″ gunners. This evidence showed definitively that all six men aboard the aircraft died upon impact.
That July, the remains of the six airmen were laid to rest in a single coffin in Arlington National Cemetery. They were buried with full military honors in a ceremony attended by their families. After decades of pain, searching, and hope, this finally brought closure to the families of the men that were lost.
Told by his great-nephew and culled from interviews with Joe Christiano’s family, M.I.A. is the story of a man that sacrificed everything for his country, and a family that, together, overcame an unimaginable loss. Blended with tales of Joe’s life before Vietnam and during wartime, the monologue also recounts first hand the experiences of the Christiano family as they made their 2012 pilgrimage from Rochester to Washington. These anecdotes lovingly describe the family in all their eccentricities as they travel, eat, and explore while on their exploits (often with comedic results), and come together to find peace.
Due to its subject matter, this play may contain material not suitable for young audiences. Parental discretion is advised.
M.I.A. is dedicated to:
Lt. Col. Joseph Christiano
Col. Derrell B. Jeffords
Lt. Col. Dennis L. Eilers
Chief Master Sgt. William K. Colwell
Chief Master Sgt. Arden K. Hassenger
Chief Master Sgt. Larry C. Thornton
And all men and women of the armed services that are prisoners of war or are missing in action, who are truly “gone but not forgotten.”
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