Remains of 2 killed in WWII coming back to NW OhioWritten by Associated Press | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The military is bringing home the remains of two Ohio men who grew up within 20 miles of each other and died when their plane was shot down over the Pacific Ocean during World War II. Their families are now planning to bury them near their hometowns in northwest Ohio.
The military used DNA to confirm their identities after divers found their plane in 2004.
“It was a 65-year family mystery as to what really happened,” said Nikki Abbott, whose great-uncle Earl Yoh was among those killed. “Finding him is like solving the mystery.”
Both Yoh, who grew up in Scott, and Leland Price, who graduated from Oakwood High School, were staff sergeants on a B-24 Liberator that was shot down in September 1944 during a bombing mission against Japanese-held islands and airstrips in the South Pacific.
The two were from small towns about 60 miles south of Toledo and had never met until they were assigned to the same bomber, according to a newspaper article written after the plane was shot down.
Three of the 11 crew members parachuted from the plane and were captured and executed by the Japanese. The eight others were initially listed as missing in action and later presumed dead.
Sixty years later, volunteer divers searching for ships and aircraft lost around the Palau Islands found the bomber sitting in 70 feet of water.
Surviving family members provided DNA samples that allowed the Department of Defense to identify the remains. Three years ago, Leona Frederick provided a DNA sample that helped identify Price.
“This is so many years ago that it’s really unbelievable almost,” said Frederick, who is his aunt and closest surviving relative.
Price was 21 when he died. Frederick was just a few years older and remembers walking with him to school. She said he was “always crazy about airplanes.”
“We were more like sister and brother,” she said.
His mother took his death harder than anyone else. “He was their only boy, and she just had a broken heart,” Frederick said.
Price is expected to be buried in Riverside Cemetery in Defiance between his parents, Dean and Nellie. A headstone for all Dean says “World War II — lost in Palau Islands.”
Yoh will be buried May 9 at a cemetery near Haviland in a ceremony that will include a military fly-over. He was a 20-year-old tail gunner on the B-24 Liberator.
His remains were confirmed about two months ago.
“I started crying,” Abbott said. “I knew how everybody wanted him to come back and now he’s going to be laid to rest beside his parents.”