CHICAGO (CBS) – Wednesday was an additional particular morning for a Northfield household, one they’ve waited almost 80 years for, as they formally buried a Chicago native whose airplane was shot down throughout World War II.
Morning Insider Lauren Victory explains why the funeral is decades-delayed.
“This is one of my favorites,” mentioned Sue Nelson, pointing to an outdated picture of her dad and his two brothers. In the image is Addison Baker, the uncle she by no means met.
Lt. Col. Baker, a pilot for the Army Air Corp, died throughout World War II.
“He refused to jeopardize the mission,” mentioned Nelson, studying from the outline of his Medal of Honor that was awarded to him after his demise. “His aircraft crashed in flames.”
Col. Baker’s physique, together with these of almost 500 different servicemembers, landed someplace in Romania on August 1, 1943. Operation Tidalwave was an try to bomb oil refineries utilized by the (*80*).
“I think we just assumed there wasn’t much of anything to be recovered which is true up until this year which is why we were just so incredibly surprised,” mentioned Nelson.
The shock was a telephone name from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) telling the lost pilot’s household that he’d been discovered.
“For him, he came all from a single grave,” mentioned Dr. Carrie Brown, a forensic anthropologist for DPAA.
Dr. Brown and Dr. Katie East spoke with CBS2 over Zoom from a DPAA lab in Nebraska. They’re a part of a crew of scientists tasked with finding then figuring out stays of army women and men. Between World War II and the late Nineteen Eighties, greater than 80,000 service members are unaccounted.
“We believe about 38,000 are recoverable and ultimately, hopefully identifiable,” mentioned Dr. Brown who mentioned it takes 2-3 years on common to make a match.
“That’s really special and it makes the work every day worth it,” mentioned Dr. East about the way it feels to shut a case and notify a household.
Making an ID was even trickier years in the past as a result of stays like Col. Baker’s have been moved round to totally different cemeteries in Europe earlier than coming to the U.S.
“Obviously there’s a lot of chaos going on and there’s limited resources, the techniques aren’t as good as what we have today,” defined Dr. Brown.
Nowadays, the DPAA crew isolates battles and focuses on sure dates and areas. They pattern soils and use context clues. Of course, DNA technology performs a huge position, too – it is what cracked Col. Baker’s case.
“To me, it is just absolutely amazing that the government is doing this kind of work,” mentioned Nelson.
She and her prolonged household gathered at Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday morning for a correct and last burial with army honors. Col. Baker finally was laid to rest in the nation he liked and died for.