Soldier's remains head home 66 years after World War II bomber's crash
PHILADELPHIA — A nephew of an Eastern Pennsylvania soldier who died in a plane crash in Europe more than six decades ago says the family is grateful that his remains have been identified and can be laid to rest.
Services for Staff Sgt. Zoltan Dobovich of Allentown, who died along with seven others in the Nov. 1, 1946, crash of a B-17 bomber in the French-Italian Alps, are to be held on Wednesday and Thursday in Perinchief Chapels in Mount Holly, N.J.
His remains were returned on Monday to family members in a ceremony at Philadelphia International Airport after a flight from the Defense Department's Central Identification Laboratory in Honolulu.
“It really feels good knowing he's been identified and we'll have him close so we can visit him,” Carlton Dobovich said.
After a visitation on Wednesday night at Perinchief Chapels, Dobovich is to receive a military funeral on Thursday in Brig. Gen. William C. Doyle Veterans Cemetery in North Hanover Township.
His brother, Anthony, who died in 2006, is also interred in the Burlington County cemetery. Gov. Chris Christie has ordered the U.S. and New Jersey flags to fly at half-staff at New Jersey state facilities in his honor.
Carlton Dobovich told the paper that his father and uncle were very close as boys, and Anthony Dobovich would be “delirious” if he were alive to learn that his brother's remains had at last been identified.
Zoltan Dobovich, the youngest of five children to Hungarian immigrant farmers, was 18 when he joined the Army in Allentown on Dec. 7, 1943, the second anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. After serving in the infantry, he joined the Army Air Corps as a radioman during the war, and it was in that position that he was aboard the B-17 Flying Fortress on the postwar flight from Naples to an airfield outside London.
The purpose of the pre-dawn flight remains unknown, and Carlton Dobovich said his efforts to answer to that question have been unsuccessful.
The plane was reported missing, and the wreckage was located the following year at 12,000 feet on the mountain known as the Aiguilles des Glaciers. Some remains found then were interred in Arlington National Cemetery, but individual remains could not be identified.
In the 1970s and 1980s, more wreckage and remains were recovered, and DNA testing recently identified some of them as those of Dobovich, who was 21 at the time of the crash.
Carlton Dobovich said the match was made from a cousin in Georgia who they had not known existed.
Francis Raout, a young soldier in the French unit that found the wreckage in 1947, told the newspaper in an email that he was grateful to have “rendered service” to the nation “whose sons liberated France.”
“I would never have thought that in 2012 I could offer my sincere condolences to the family of Zoltan Dobovich,” Raout said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Small-town police struggle to survive as tax bases shrink
- Lawyers donate thousands of dollars to Pennsylvania Supreme Court race
- Congressman rejects calls for recusal over romance with lobbyist
- Woman’s love of border collies, 9/11 attacks spark change in life
- No arrests yet in shooting death of New Castle man
- Greene County Veterans Affairs office plans meetings to offer info, assistance with benefits
- Another PennDOT contractor charged with corruption
- Allentown Mayor Pawlowski to run for U.S. Senate
- Washington-based Association of Corporate Counsel: Lawyers must stay loyal