Russell W. Abendschoen – Technical Sergeant, United States Army Air Force

After 63 years, York County native laid to rest
Relatives from the area attended the World War II vet’s burial in Arlington.
Courtesy of theDaily Record/Sunday News
14 June 2007

Four generations of Abendschoens traveled from York County to Arlington National Cemetery for the funeral Wednesday of a 23-year-old World War II soldier who died in a plane crash September 21, 1944.

Army Air Force Technical Sergeant Russell Abendschoen’s first cousin, 87-year-old Edward J. Abendschoen Jr. of York Township, is the next of kin. Edward Jr.’s son, Edward Abendschoen III, said he couldn’t imagine not attending the funeral.

“We are the only family living the poor guy had,” he said.

Russell Abendschoen’s family moved from York County to Detroit when he was young. That is all Edward J. Abendschoen Jr. knows about his cousin. Their families never again got together.

Russell enlisted in the Army Air Force on December 30, 1939, at age 18, said Larry Greer, spokesman for the Defense Prisoner of War and Missing Personnel Office.

Five years later, Russell was a member of a five-man crew on a C-47A Skytrain cargo plane that had just delivered Polish paratroopers to a drop zone south of Arnhem, in the Netherlands, in support of Operation Market Garden, Greer said.

After leaving the drop zone, the plane crashed. There were no survivors, Greer said. It could have been hit by German anti-aircraft fire, or crashed for some other reason.

It was 1945 before Allies had access to that area.

The Germans opened the dikes to flood the crash area in 1944 before any remains could be recovered.

When the Dutch returned to their homes in 1945, they buried the remains from the wreckage in a nearby cemetery, Greer said.

In 1950, an Army graves registration team disinterred the remains and reburied them as a group at the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Kentucky.

In 1994, a Dutch citizen found more human remains and other crew-related materials associated with the C-47 crash. They were turned over to the United States in 2001.

Forensic procedures in Hawaii, dental records and DNA from two grandnieces of Abendschoen enabled pathologists to identify his remains, Greer said.

Edward Abendschoen III said there was much more to the graveside service Wednesday afternoon than the family had expected.

An honor guard carried the casket from the hearse to the burial spot. An Army chaplain delivered a short service. A ceremonial rifle squad of seven fired three volleys for a 21-gun salute, and taps was played.

Attendees included a man in his 80s who had served in Russell Abendschoen’s unit, civilians who had heard about the service and a woman from the Department of the Army.

“Everything worked out very well,” Abendschoen said.

The Army will place a white marble marker on the young, deceased soldier’s grave.

These members of Russell Abendschoen’s family attended his funeral Wednesday:

Russell’s cousin, Edward J. Abendschoen Jr., of York Township; Edward Jr.’s sons, Thomas and Edward Abendschoen III; Edward III’s wife Bonnie, and their son, Hans; Hans’ 7-year-old son Tyr; Graham and Chase, the children of Edward III and Bonnie’s son Geoffrey; Brian Santini; and Dona (Abendschoen) Marchesse and her husband, Steve.

NOTE: Also see Thomas R. Yenner, SecondLieutenant, United States Army and George G.Herbst, Sergeant, United States Army.


  • DATE OF DEATH: 09/21/1944

Read our general and most popular articles

Leave a Comment