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A soldier's return

Services held for WWII flier missing since crash in 1944

Services held for WWII flier missing since crash in 1944

October 07, 2007|By DAN DEARTH

DRY RUN, PA. - Staff Sgt. Robert J. Flood, who disappeared with his crew mates when their B-24 crashed 63 years ago during World War II, finally was laid to rest next to his parents Saturday afternoon at Upper Path Valley Cemetery near Dry Run.

The funeral carried full military honors, including a U.S. Army Reserve color guard and a flyover by a lone military jet.

Attending the funeral was Flood's brother, Richard L. Flood, 84, of Mifflintown, Pa., and several other family members.

"We definitely have a feeling of closure," said Robin Miller, a niece of the Flood brothers. "It's wonderful that this happened while Uncle Dick is living. It's good to have him see Uncle Bob come home."

Flood was 22 when his plane was lost July 7, 1944, during a bombing raid on an aircraft factory in Bernburg, Germany.

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In 2003, an archaeological excavation team uncovered human bones at the crash site, which was inaccessible to U.S. officials for several decades because it was in the former East Germany. Subsequent DNA testing confirmed the identities of Flood and seven other crew members.

Miller said her family was notified of the DNA results in June.

Of Flood's remains, only a bone from his upper right arm was buried Saturday, Miller said.

The coffin also contained an empty uniform, one of Flood's dog tags and a Purple Heart.

Another of Flood's nieces, Connie Strawser, said her father, Richard Flood, rarely talked about his missing brother.

"I think it was still too painful to speak of it," she said. "It was still unknown. He just said today it was closure."

Miller said her late mother, Ruth Shaw, Richard and Robert Flood's older sister, didn't say much either.

"She really missed him," Miller said. "She was convinced he was really hurt and couldn't make it home. She didn't want to accept that he died."

Flood worked at Letterkenny Army Depot near Chambersburg, Pa., before serving in the U.S. Army Air Force.

The color guard removed Flood's coffin from a silver hearse and carried it to the grave site, where family members awaited under a canopy made of cloth.

The flag that laid atop the coffin was neatly folded and handed to Richard Flood after the color guard fired a rifle salute.

Col. Arthur Pace, an Army chaplain, read the 23rd Psalm and reminded the mourners to remember all World War II veterans.

"Freedom is never free," Pace said. "And some pay more than others."

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