CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - UPDATE: 02/22/19
The remains of World War II Sgt. John Kalausich arrived Thursday night at Yeager Airport in Charleston -- 74 years after his death during combat in Europe. He was greeted by family and members of the West Virginia National Guard.
A ceremony involving military honors moved his body from the Delta Airlines jet to a hearse. Among family there to see Kalausich home was his great-nephew Jeff Stewart.
“It was sort of a story that all of us knew growing up, and I think to find him and to bring him home is a wonderful thing that brings a lot of closure to our family. It’s a neat story,” Stewart said.
In 1945, Kalausich was a member of the 642nd Bombardment Squadron, 409th Bombardment Group, 9th Bombardment Division and 9th Air Force. He was on a plane when it was hit by anti-aircraft fire and went missing during a combat mission from Couvron, France to Dulmen, Germany.
Kalausich, his pilot and other crewman had been involved in the interdiction campaign to obstruct German troop movements in preparation for the Allied crossing of the Rhine River.
After the war, the American Graves Registration Command searched the area where the plane crashed, but no crash sites could be positively matched with Kalausich's plane.
In June 2016, another crash site was found in Germany where the plane matched the description of Kalausich's aircraft. He was later identified through DNA and dental analysis.
“I was shocked that people still work to bring soldiers home and I think it’s important and we’re very honored and blessed to have people that are still looking for missing soldiers,” Stewart said.
Kalausich's name is recorded in the Tablets of the Missing in the Netherlands American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for. There are over 72,000 service members still unaccounted for from World War II.
ORIGINAL STORY: 01/19/19
The remains of a West Virginia airman and two other servicemen who died in Europe during World War II have been identified.
The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced Thursday that Sgt. John Kalausich's remains have been identified. A memorial service and burial for Kalausich will take place Feb. 23 in Charleston.
On March 21, 1945, Kalausich's bomber was struck by anti-aircraft artillery while trying to obstruct German troop movements in preparation for the Allied crossing of the Rhine River. He was 19.
In 2016, a German researcher reported a crash site in a horse paddock. Scientists used DNA, dental and anthropological analyses and other evidence to identify Kalausich's remains.
The remains of the pilot, 2nd Lt. Lynn W. Hadfield, and another crewman, Sgt. Vernon L. Hamilton, were also identified.
Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, http://wvgazettemail.com.
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