ShareThis Page
Westmoreland

Flags to fly at half staff in honor of WWII airman's interment in Arlington

Deb Erdley
| Friday, Nov. 30, 2018, 1:39 p.m.
This image provided by the Department of Defense shows Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Eugene P. Ford an Air Force pilot from Pennsylvania whose plane crashed off the coast of Croatia during World War II. The Defense Department's POW/MIA Accounting Agency says the remains of Ford have been recovered and will be buried on Dec. 4, 2018, in Arlington National Cemetery. (Department of Defense via AP)
This image provided by the Department of Defense shows Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Eugene P. Ford an Air Force pilot from Pennsylvania whose plane crashed off the coast of Croatia during World War II. The Defense Department's POW/MIA Accounting Agency says the remains of Ford have been recovered and will be buried on Dec. 4, 2018, in Arlington National Cemetery. (Department of Defense via AP)

Flags will fly at half staff at all Westmoreland County facilities on Tuesday in honor of the repatriation and interment of 1st Lt. Eugene P. Ford, a World War II B24 pilot from Derry Township.

Ford’s remains will be interred Dec. 4 in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors, along with the ashes of Vietnam veteran Richard Stanton Ford, the son the young World War II pilot never met.

Eugene Ford was 21 and piloting his 44th mission on Dec. 17, 1944, when his plane, the Tulsamerican, went down in the Adriatic Sea off the coast of Croatia after sustaining heavy damage from German fighter planes during a bombing run on the second day of the Battle of the Bulge.

Ford left behind an infant daughter and his 21 year-old widow, Marian McMillen Ford, then pregnant with the son he would never meet.

Matt Zamosky, Westmoreland County Director of Veterans Affairs, said the late Derry Township airman certainly merits recognition both in Arlington and here in his home county.

“It’s rare that we have one of our missing-in-action returned and I think we have to take every opportunity as a community to thank him and his family for their service,” Zamosky said of the decision to lower flags to half staff.

Croatian divers discovered the wreck of the Tulsamerican about 130 feet underwater, near the Isle of Vis, in 2010. A serial number on the rusting hulk buried in silt on the ocean floor identified the plane, the last B24 to roll off the production lines at Douglas Aircraft Co. in Tulsa, Okla.

Ford’s remains and his gold wedding band were recovered during a 19-day international scientific mission in July 2017. His remains were identified later through DNA testing at the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s forensic anthropology lab in Hawaii.

Ford’s only surviving child, 74 year-old Norma Ford Beard, said she plans to travel from her home near Indianapolis to attend the ceremony in Arlington.

She said her brother Richard, who retired from the Navy after 20 years with two tours of duty in Vietnam, developed a keen interest in his father’s fate before he died in 2008.

“He asked me if they ever found our father that I would see that he be buried at Arlington. I promised him that,” Beard said. “Their ashes will be in the same niche in Arlington.”

The story of her father’s heroics and the recovery mission was recounted Nov. 7 on PBS’ “NOVA: Last B-24.”

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.

click me