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Wednesday 7 December 2022
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WWII Pilot Buried Alongside His Mother In Upstate NY 70 Years After Crash

Veterans Day remember badge icon.Every year, 2.4 million funerals are held in the United States, but only a handful of families have to wait as long for closure as the family of “Uncle Eddie,” a World War II fighter pilot finally laid to rest with honors this July in Mohawk Valley, New York.

On Wednesday, July 29, the remains of 2nd Lieutenant Edward F. Baker were returned to his family in New York to be buried in a family plot in Herkimer, New York. When his flag-draped casket arrived at the Calvary Cemetery with an Army honor guard from nearby Fort Drum, it marked the end of a 70-year journey home.

The young 21-year-old pilot went missing during a training flight over Papua New Guinea, after enlisting in the U.S. Army during World War II. A year later, in 1944, his P-47 Thunderbolt vanished over the South Pacific. In 1962, military officials found a wrecked P-47 on a mountainside, but Baker’s remains would not be found for another four decades, when a military team discovered his body, dog tags, and other items in 2002. After a DNA match with his nephew, Vietnam veteran Mark Shoemaker, earlier this year, the Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency helped return his body home.

Unfortunately, the discovery came too late for Baker’s mother and sister, who died before his remains were discovered and identified. Even so, the family can finally be reunited when Baker is laid to rest alongside his mother in the family plot outside their hometown.

“We finally get to put him next to her,” said Shoemaker. “That’s a big deal to me.”

Baker isn’t the only World War II veteran returning home after more than 70 years. Also this July, a nonprofit organization called History Flight returned to the United States from a trip to Tarawa, the site of a bloody battle. On that tiny island, volunteers identified the remains of fallen marines, who will finally be returned to their surviving family members this summer.