NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A special service was held Monday for a World War II pilot, killed in action decades ago.
The remains of John McTigue were finally returned home, 75 years after his plane was shot down by the Germans.
Monday, relatives and complete strangers paid their respects to the hero.
There was a pipe and drum corps and a color guard of veterans at the military funeral.
“It’s over now. He’s at rest,” said Thomas McTigue.
Back in 1944, then 22-year-old WWII airman John McTigue, of Wantaugh, was shot down by the enemy while co-piloting his B-17 in Germany.
Five people in his crew were killed, including John McTigue.
The news was devastating to his now 92-year-old brother Thomas, who had so many questions including where his brother was buried.
“For all those years you never knew?” CBS2’s Scott Rapoport asked.
“No,” Thomas said.
According to records, McTigue was buried in Germany. But his remains were declared unidentified after the war and moved to an American cemetery in France. His disconsolate brother Thomas was never able to find out exactly where, unable to pay his final respects, unable to bring his brother home.
Five years ago, he says a researcher contacted his family saying she potentially located his brothers remains. The family provided DNA samples, the remains were disinterred, and in early September the family learned that DNA confirmed John McTigue has been found.
“He’s finally put to rest. And I’m happy,” Thomas McTigue said.
“Certainly for the family there’s relief and closure,” said nephew Frank Karlsson.
Now 75 years later, a hero has come home to the proper funeral he deserved. The flag from his casket was solemnly presented to his loving brother.
After the emotional ravages of war, a family is finally at peace.
Thomas McTigue is also a WWII veteran. He served in the Navy.