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Remains of seven long-lost airmen who died in World War II plane crash in Burma are buried together with full military honors.
Christine King (far left), sister of Pfc. Richard M. Dawson of Haynesville, and Donna Peterson (weeping), niece
SUZANNE CARR ROSSI/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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BY FRANK DELANO
ARLINGTON--The World War II airmen who flew the C-47As called them "flying caskets."
At Arlington National Cemetery yesterday, the remains of seven men who died 66 years ago when one of those twin-engined cargo planes crashed in an Asian jungle were buried together with full military honors.
Anderson, Auld, Crane, Dawson, Fagan, Frantz and Oblinksi were their names. They came from all over the country.
Yesterday, nearly 100 members of their families, many of whom never knew the long-lost men, came from all over the country to honor them at their funeral.
"We'll make sure everyone is proud of him and proud of our government for finding him and bringing an end to his story," said Dr. Winston M. Fagan, the 58-year-old nephew of Pvt. Fred G. Fagan, a farm boy from Piedmont, Ala.
One of Fagan's crewmates was Pfc. Richard M. Dawson, another farm boy who went to war from Haynesville in Richmond County. The family called him Norris. He finished fifth grade at the Totuskey School that still stands down the road from the Dawson home.
His 78-year-old sister, Christine D. King, still lives in the little house they grew up in. She remembers the day in 1944 that the telegram arrived to tell the Dawson family that Norris was missing. She was 13. He was 25.
Dawson, Fagan and the others stayed missing until 2004, when the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command completed examinations of the crash site in the mountains of northern Burma (now Myanmar).
JPAC teams found Dawson's dog tag. They also found six teeth, three small hand and foot bones, and pieces of equipment. Forensic technicians spent five years trying to identify every little piece.
The families, accompanied by their casualty assistance officers, gathered at a funeral home Wednesday night to share their stories.
Two flag-draped coffins were in the room.
One was for 1st Lt. Joseph J. Auld of Floral Park, N.Y., whose remains were identified by DNA analysis and whose family requested an individual grave. The other contained the rest of the remains.
Capt. Joseph M. Olbinski, Chicago; 1st Lt. Joseph J. Auld, Floral Park, N.Y.; 1st Lt. Robert M. Anderson, Millen, Ga.; Tech. Sgt. Clarence E. Frantz, Tyrone, Pa.; Pfc. Richard M. Dawson, Haynesville, Va.; Pvt. Robert L. Crane, Sacramento, Calif.; and Pvt. Fred G. Fagan, Piedmont, Ala.