York County's Dennis Mohr holds his hand over his heart as the final casket is carried in for a late-June 2006 ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. Mohr’s brother, Corporal William G. Mohr, was among the WWII soldiers laid to rest six decades after they died on New Guinea.
When Chester A. Griffith Jr.’s body was recovered in 1951, surely people in York County thought he would be the last World War II soldier who died in uniform to be brought home.
It was six years after the war ended, when the B-17 pilot’s body, and the remains of two comrades who had died in the same crash, were recovered.
Griffith’s plane went down in an air attack in Germany in July 1944.
His body was interred in a national cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky.
He would be among more than 570 York County servicemen who died in World War II.
But Griffith would not be the last discovered.
Six decades after the war ended, the body of York County’s Corporal William G. Mohr and eight others were found in Papua New Guinea. Mohr disappeared in a World War II B-24 bomber in 1944.
As time passed, foliage hid the wreckage. A few years ago, islanders found some dog tags.
A military investigation identified the plane as Mohr’s.
The crew was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery, as this story in the York Daily Record on June 28, 2006, describes:
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY — The training mission nine U.S. Army Air Corps soldiers began in what is now Papua New Guinea more than 60 years ago ended Tuesday among the dead of America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Corporal William G. Mohr of York County and his World War II crewmates were laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery long after their plane crashed in the middle of an Asian jungle.
Relatives from across the United States huddled under a small tent to say goodbye as rain continued to pelt the nation’s capital.
And among those relatives was Dennis Mohr, brother of one of the nine who disappeared and spent 60 years on the military’s missing list.
Dennis Mohr lives with his wife in Manchester, where he first got the news late last year that his long-missing brother had finally been found.
Their remains and those of their B-24 bomber were found by chance by villagers a few years ago. After careful analysis by military officials, the crew’s families were notified one by one that their loved ones would finally get a proper burial with full military honors.
Mohr could not be reached immediately after the service.
But when he first got the news his brother had been found, Mohr said it was a hard decision to bury his brother at Arlington instead of in the grave that has sat empty next to his mother for a half century.
“We thought he deserved it,” Mohr said in March of the Arlington ceremony.
And the military pulled out all the normal stops, complete with a practice run before the funeral procession approached the gravesite, led by a caisson and horses carrying a coffin with group remains.
Some of the body parts recovered could not be linked to a specific crew member.
After a few words were said over the caskets — five in all, including four complete remains — flags were folded and given to family, and a 21-gun salute and taps gave the men a final sendoff.
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Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard