A pilot from World War II has finally been laid to rest 76 years after his death.
US Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Ernest N. Vienneau was 25 in 1944 when his plane was shot down over present-day Slovenia, according to a news release from the Department of Defense.
His B-17 Flying Fortress bomber came under heavy fire during a mission and a piece of flank tore through the cockpit and struck Vienneau in the head, killing him, the release said. The crew treated him and tried to make it back to base but had to ditch the aircraft off the coast of Croatia with Vienneau’s body inside.
His body couldn’t be found until recently.
His remains were recovered last fall after crews excavated the crash site discovered in 2005, the release said. He was officially identified by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) in April using dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence.
Vienneu’s remains were then returned to his hometown of Millinocket, Maine, and buried on Saturday next to his parents.
“As veterans we take care of our own the best we can and their families. It’s been very emotional for a lot of people up here and to find somebody from World War II. It doesn’t happen too often,” Paul L’Heureux, Department Adjutant for the American Legion Department of Maine, told CNN affiliate WABI.
Members of his family, veterans, and the community all came to pay their respects, WABI reported.
Vienneu’s name has been recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Florence American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Impruneta, Italy, and now a rosette will show he has been accounted for.
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