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At long last, pilot returns - after 50 years...

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Are_grits_groceries Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-22-09 04:43 PM
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At long last, pilot returns - after 50 years...
Jack S. Arnett was shot down in the Pacific in 1944, and his remains weren't recovered till 2004. Only one of his brothers survives to attend his funeral service Saturday.

Until her last breath, nearly 50 years after her son's wounded bomber plunged into the Pacific Ocean, Dessie Arnett Amick clung to the faintest of hopes that her baby-faced airman would someday return from World War II.

On Tuesday, he finally did.

The remains of 2nd Lt. Jack S. Arnett, missing since Sept. 1, 1944, when his B-24 Liberator and 10-man crew were shot out of the sky by Japanese artillery, arrived at Orlando International Airport with an Army escort.

"He will be where he belongs now -- among his brothers and those who loved him," said Carolyn Arnett Rocchio, 77, of Boynton Beach, who described her cousin as handsome and smart, a mischievous boy who liked to shoot the blossoms off their grandmother's flowers with a BB gun.

An Army honor guard greeted the soldier's remains Tuesday, and the Orlando Fire Department fired water cannons over the plane, but no family members were waiting at the end of the airman's amazing odyssey from ocean floor to OIA.

Arnett's mother died in 1993 at the age of 99 in her Audubon Park home, where an oil portrait of the 23-year-old pilot served as living-room sentry for 40 years. His father, B.B., and younger brother, Warren, are dead, too.

His wife remarried and died. They had no children.

His lone surviving sibling, Howard Arnett, 92, of Winter Park, a former Navy pilot and private aviator who flew Pacific routes after the war in search of his brother or the plane's wreckage, has Alzheimer's disease.

Howard Arnett, nonetheless, played a crucial role in his kid brother's return.

He provided DNA that helped military investigators from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command identify bones found in the wreckage of a U.S. bomber discovered 70 feet deep in the ocean near the Republic of Palau in 2004.

Hit by the enemy

The last flight of Jack Arnett and his crew, members of the U.S. Army Air Force's 424th Bombardment Squadron, rumbled off a primitive airstrip on Wakde Island shortly after 6:30 a.m. The taxing eight-hour round-trip bombing run would take them over the Japanese army's regional headquarters.

The U.S. military had launched the air offensive six days earlier, hoping to soften Japanese defenses on the islands in preparation for a bold invasion directed by Adm. Chester Nimitz and Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

The islands were the Japanese Imperial Army's last strategic stronghold between Allied forces and the Philippines -- and the site of some of the most ferocious battles of the war in the Pacific, where an estimated 1,500 Americans died.

RIP 2nd Lt. Arnett..... :patriot:
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apocalypsehow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-22-09 04:46 PM
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1. Kick & Rec. n/t
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Dennis Donovan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-22-09 05:28 PM
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2. Amazing story!
The fact that there's still human remains @ 40 ft down in the ocean after 65 years is remarkable!
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louis-t Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-22-09 06:16 PM
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3. And still has viable DNA!
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