Solemn ceremony honors return of WWII airmen - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Solemn ceremony honors return of WWII airmen

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U.S. Army Capt. Lukas Findley presents the U.S. flag to Nancy Farrell, the sister of Staff Sgt. Robert Shoemaker. (U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser / Arlington National Cemetery) U.S. Army Capt. Lukas Findley presents the U.S. flag to Nancy Farrell, the sister of Staff Sgt. Robert Shoemaker. (U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser / Arlington National Cemetery)
The U.S. Army Honor Guard Firing Party fires 3-rifle volleys during a funeral service for U.S. airmen missing from World War II at Arlington National Cemetery on June 27, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser / Arlington National Cemetery) The U.S. Army Honor Guard Firing Party fires 3-rifle volleys during a funeral service for U.S. airmen missing from World War II at Arlington National Cemetery on June 27, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser / Arlington National Cemetery)
Remains of these five World War II airmen were buried at Arlington National Cemetery on June 27, 2018. (WJLA) Remains of these five World War II airmen were buried at Arlington National Cemetery on June 27, 2018. (WJLA)
A portrait of Bobby Younger, who was 19 when his B-17 bomber was shot down over Germany in November, 1944. (Courtesy Collin County Freedom Fighters) A portrait of Bobby Younger, who was 19 when his B-17 bomber was shot down over Germany in November, 1944. (Courtesy Collin County Freedom Fighters)
U.S. Army Air Forces Airmen who went missing after their bomber was shot down over Germany during receive full honors on June 28, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser / Arlington National Cemetery) U.S. Army Air Forces Airmen who went missing after their bomber was shot down over Germany during receive full honors on June 28, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser / Arlington National Cemetery)

By RICHARD REEVE
WJLA

ARLINGTON, Virginia (WJLA) -- They fought together.

They died together.

Now, almost 74 years later, they are buried together.

Five airmen from a B-17 bomber that was shot down over Germany during World War II were laid to rest together Wednesday with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

Two of the men were born close to Texoma: Tech/Sgt. Allen A. Chandler of Fletcher, Oklahoma, and Staff/Sgt. Bobby J. Younger from McKinney, Texas.

The others were Tech/Sgt. John F. Brady, 1st Lt. John H. Liekhus and Staff/Sgt. Robert O. Shoemaker. 

"I'm so glad that it's brought to a wonderful conclusion, and that their remains are in Arlington," said Nancy Farrell, Shoemaker's sister.

November 2, 1944: In the chaos of war, Shoemaker's plane -- nicknamed "Bomber Dear" -- was shot down and crashed near Barby, Germany.

Three crew members were taken prisoner, another was killed, but five were missing.

The location of the remains was a mystery for years, but then came one very lucky break. With the help of DNA technology and local government records, everything changed.

A rumored plane crash led to a farmer's recollection of the crash in a field.

"The grandson took us to the field," recalled Gregory Kupsky, a historian with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. "We had metal detectors and we looked, and sure enough we found tiny pieces of what it turns out were pieces of this aircraft."

The remains of the airmen were recovered in 2015 and 2016.

About a year ago, military authorities contacted Shoemaker's family, asking for DNA material to make a match, which led to a positive ID.

“It does complete the story,” KTEN News Director Mark Farrell, Shoemaker's nephew, told WJLA.  “He’s back home, where he should be.”