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70 years after they disappeared, ‘Hot Garters’ crewmen get final honors

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

By Sarah Dinell

ARLINGTON, Va. – The day was almost 71 years coming.

On Wednesday, the Army buried the remains of 1st Lt. Herbert Young Jr., a Clarkdale native, along with five crewmates who disappeared in their B-24 Liberator in New Guinea while on a mission to attack a Japanese anti-aircraft position during World War II.

Those six were among 12 airmen on the bomber, nicknamed “Hot Garters,” when it was shot down near Hansa Bay, New Guinea. Of the four who parachuted out, one was never found and the bodies of three were later identified.

The other eight were declared missing in 1949.

They stayed that way until 2001, when remains were discovered in New Guinea. Army officials last year were able to officially link six of those remains, including Young’s, to the crew of the ill-fated mission.

Young was buried last year in Prescott, and other members of the crew who could be officially identified were returned to their families for burial. But Wednesday’s service at Arlington National Cemetery was to honor all 12 members of the Hot Garters crew,

Under a bright sky on a crisp March day, a horse-drawn caisson carried a single, flag-draped casket to a burial plot at the cemetery. The casket contained the partial remains of the six, and was buried to honor the 12, said Melissa Bohan, a spokeswoman for the cemetery.

Bohan said it is common for crew members who died together to be honored together, in addition to their individual funerals.

A small group of family members stood by as a military band played and an honor guard fired three rounds of shots. The flag was taken from the casket, carefully folded, and presented to one of the family members.

Bohan said Young’s daughter, who was born after he was deployed was at the ceremony. But reporters were held at bay and the daughter, Diana Long, did not return a phone call seeking comment Wednesday.

The entire ceremony took about 30 minutes – and about 71 years – for the Hot Garters crewmen to get the honors they earned on April 10, 1944.