World War II airman makes journey home to Ohio 73 years after his death

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ZANESVILLE, OH (WCMH) — A red carpet was rolled out for a World War II airman whose remains were flown into John Glenn International airport on Thursday afternoon.

Sgt. Harold Davis went missing after a plane crash in Papua New Guinea killed all eleven on board on Feb. 1944.

NBC4 spoke with a relative who made his homecoming possible.

Sgt. Davis, 24, went missing in 1944 after a B-25 he was onboard crashed into a mountain. Thursday, his remains were escorted by fire and police departments along with the Patriot Guard back to his hometown of Zanesville.

Sgt. Davis was recently identified by a DNA match with his now 80-year-old nephew Dick Waite.

”I was 7 years-old when he came home for his last leave and he took me for a ride in his Volkswagen, and that is the last thing I could remember about him,” Waite said. He said that was in 1943.

Sgt. Davis was a Code Telegrapher for the Army Air Corp, stationed on the Pacific Island of New Guinea when Waite said his plane crashed into a 10,000 foot mountain as a storm raged. Their remains laid on the remote site of the Owen Stanley Mountain range for 19 years.

”It was a year later before they considered him dead and his mom never though he was dead, she thought he was still over there,” said Waite.

The airmen’s remains were found in the 60s, and buried together in Arlington Cemetery, that is until Waite said he got a call.

”When the Army called me a couple weeks ago, they said, ‘We want to come and see you, we found your uncle,’” he said.

The DNA from a section of Sgt. Davis’ shin bone was matched to a DNA sample Waite said he sent the Army three years ago. Waite was humble even in his acknowledgement of that contribution.

”Yep it is a great honor and his mom would really be happy,” Waite said.

The Army presented Waite with several medals and pins it had awarded Sgt. Davis.

On Saturday Sgt. Davis’ remains will be laid to rest in the Zanesville Memorial Park at the foot of his mother’s grave with full military honors.

After the funeral a public wake will be held at the American Legion Post on South 3rd St. in Zanesville.

He was born in 1920 in Noble County, Ohio and moved to Zanesville when he was 6. He graduated from Lash High School and was the first of his family to graduate high school.

The United States Army, Patriot Guard Riders, and other law enforcement will join the procession from John Glenn Columbus International Airport to Zanesville via I-70 and Route 40.

A graveside service will be held Saturday, August 12, 2017 at Zanesville Memorial Park. The procession will leave DeLong-Baker & Lanning Funeral Home at 10am.