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World War II Airman Finally Laid to Rest

Getty Images / Win McNamee

World War II Airman Finally Laid to Rest

Seventy years after Sgt. Charles A. Gardner’s last flight, the World War II airman’s family was finally able to see him buried last week with full military honors.

Gardner was one of 12 crew members aboard a B-24D Liberator that was shot down over New Guinea April 10, 1944. While a few of the men were accounted for at the time, Gardner and seven others remained missing for decades.

In 2001, wreckage of the plane was discovered, and DNA testing and other evidence has been able to identify Gardner’s remains and those of the other crew members. This past Thursday, Dec. 4, Gardner was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, with military honors conducted by the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment.

Even so long after a death, funerals matter. Gardner’s younger brother, Theodore, who was among the family attending the ceremony at Arlington, received his brother’s flag. “The fact is we will know this is finally taken care of,” Gardner told “We were able to bring Charles to his final resting place.”

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, in addition to Gardner, the remains of seven others from the plane are being returned to their families: 1st Lts. William D. Bernier, of Augusta, Montana, Bryant E. Poulsen, of Salt Lake City, and Herbert V. Young Jr., of Clarkdale, Arizona; Tech Sgts. Charles L. Johnston, of Pittsburgh, and Hugh F. Moore, of Elkton, Maryland; and Staff Sgts. John E. Copeland, of Dearing, Kansas, and Charles J. Jones, of Athens, Georgia.