ShareThis Page
Westmoreland

Long-lost WWII pilot from Derry finally buried in Arlington National Cemetery

| Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, 1:54 p.m.

A B24 pilot from Derry Township who died during a World War II mission was finally laid to rest Tuesday.

The remains of 1st Lt. Eugene P. Ford were interred at Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C., with full military honors. Also part of the inurnment were ashes of Vietnam veteran Richard Stanton Ford, the son the pilot never met.

Flags were ordered to fly at half-staff at all Westmoreland County facilities Tuesday in honor of Ford.

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. It had sustained 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 Richard Stanton Ford.

Croatian divers in 2010 discovered the Tulsamerican about 130 feet underwater on the ocean floor near the Isle of Vis. A serial number on the rusting hulk 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, traveled 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.

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

A flag is folded over the remains 1st Lt. Eugene P. Ford at his his burial site at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018. Ford’s last mission in World War II was piloting a B-24 Liberator in a bombing run on the second day of the Battle of the Bulge. In 2010, Croatian divers discovered the remains of his plane in about 130 feet underwater, near Vis.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
A flag is folded over the remains 1st Lt. Eugene P. Ford at his his burial site at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018. Ford’s last mission in World War II was piloting a B-24 Liberator in a bombing run on the second day of the Battle of the Bulge. In 2010, Croatian divers discovered the remains of his plane in about 130 feet underwater, near Vis.
A caisson carries the remains of 1st Lt. Eugene P. Ford his burial site at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018. Ford’s last mission in World War II was piloting a B-24 Liberator in a bombing run on the second day of the Battle of the Bulge. In 2010, Croatian divers discovered the remains of his plane in about 130 feet underwater, near Vis.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
A caisson carries the remains of 1st Lt. Eugene P. Ford his burial site at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018. Ford’s last mission in World War II was piloting a B-24 Liberator in a bombing run on the second day of the Battle of the Bulge. In 2010, Croatian divers discovered the remains of his plane in about 130 feet underwater, near Vis.
Norma Ford Beard, 74, of Indianapolis, Ind., receives a flag after the inurnment of her father, 1st Lt. Eugene P. Ford at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018. Ford’s last mission in World War II was piloting a B-24 Liberator in a bombing run on the second day of the Battle of the Bulge. In 2010, Croatian divers discovered the remains of his plane in about 130 feet underwater, near Vis.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Norma Ford Beard, 74, of Indianapolis, Ind., receives a flag after the inurnment of her father, 1st Lt. Eugene P. Ford at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018. Ford’s last mission in World War II was piloting a B-24 Liberator in a bombing run on the second day of the Battle of the Bulge. In 2010, Croatian divers discovered the remains of his plane in about 130 feet underwater, near Vis.
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