Winter Haven family learns fate of pilot shot down over Vietnam

After 52 years of waiting, a Winter Haven family has finally found out the answer to a heartbreaking question: They wondered if their loved on was dead or alive. 

This Memorial Day they know.

Peter Stewart's fighter jet went down over North Vietnam March 15, 1966. Just a few weeks ago, the U.S. government identified his remains, which were found at the crash site.

"Now knowing that he did perish in the crash, it's some measure of peace, just knowing that he did not suffer," his son, Jim Stewart, told FOX 13. 

His son also cringed at the possibility of his dad being a prisoner of war all these years.

The news, although bittersweet, is helping the Stewart family now see Memorial Day in a slightly different light.

"It has always been a little painful on this holiday, remembering him," Stewart said. "This one is not as painful."

Stewart's remains will arrive at Tampa International Airport in about two weeks, and be escorted by a motorcade back to Polk County where memorial services will be held.