DPAA In The News

75 years after his death, a lost Philadelphia airman is returned to his family (Via The Philadelphia Inquirer)

By Mike Newall

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Janice Hechler can’t remember the first time she learned that her Uncle Howard was lost.

She was not yet 4 when the bomber plane he had piloted crashed in a lagoon off the Pacific in World War II. Janice didn’t know much about her uncle. As the years went on, the family drifted apart, as families sometimes do.

When she thought of it, she imagined Howard’s life in sepia tones. He had grown up in a family with some standing in Olney, attended the University of Pennsylvania and then enlisted, and was lost. The military had said his remains were unrecoverable. No one in her family spoke about it much.

One day earlier this month, a man in a suit and a woman in an Army uniform showed up at her door in Silver Spring, Md., where Janice, now 77, retired.

After 75 years, Uncle Howard’s remains had been identified. He was coming home.

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