This was the moment democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean had been waiting for, the return of his younger brother's remains to the U.S. The flag-draped coffins of Charlie Dean, along with three others, arrived at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.
"He was an extraordinary person who we're going to miss every day, but we are deeply comforted by the fact that this operation has allowed us to repatriate what we believe are his remains and ultimately take them back home," said Howard Dean.
Dean's brother disappeared in Laos in September 1974 along with an Australian journalist, Ian Sharman.
This month, a team of U.S. Army forensic experts discovered their remains in an area that used to be controlled by communist guerillas.
The Dean family isn't exactly sure why Charlie Dean went to Laos. They suspect it had something to do with the Vietnam War. Some members believe he could have been an American spy, though Gov. Dean doubts that.
Those closest to him say the disappearance and death of his brother transformed him into a driven family man who first embraced medicine, then politics. He told ABC's Peter Jennings the ordeal taught him a valuable lesson.
"It taught me to tell people what you think of them. Tell them you love them, if you do. Because you don't know when you're not going to see them again," said Dean.
Dean and his family planned to personally thank the members of the joint POW/MIA accounting command who found and identified Charlie Dean's remains.