Body Of Lost WWII Marine Returns To Tulsa
TULSA, Oklahoma - A World War II veteran will come to his final resting place after being lost on a South Pacific island since 1944.
Second Lieutenant Walter Vincent's body was recovered after 68 years, and he will be buried in Tulsa Saturday.
Georgia Vincent Kendall met her brother-in-law for the first time 70 years ago, and says he was a looker.
"He was a strong looking young, very, very handsome," Georgia said.
In the early 40s, Walter Vincent Junior, or Dub, made a surprise visit to her office.
"He said, ‘I'm Dub Vincent and I understand you're the girlfriend of my older brother and just wanted to meet you,'" Georgia said.
That would be their one and only meeting. Vincent was a member of a U.S. Marine Corps Bomber Squadron station on the island of Espiritu Santo.
On April 22, 1944, he was a crew member on a PBJ-1D, the Marines' version of a B-25 bomber, that took off in a rainstorm on a night training mission from Luganville Airfield. The aircraft never returned.
"They just got lost and ran into the mountain," Dub's nephew Craig Anderson said.
For decades, Dub's family always assumed he, and the six other Marines on board, had been lost at sea.
"Death is better than some things that some of them had to go through at that time," Georgia said.
Searches failed to recover the servicemen's bodies. In 2007, a search team that included Vincent's family members discovered the crash site in a mountainside jungle.
"All of a sudden, out of the jungle there was the propeller, huge propeller," Crag said. "And I looked down, and I was standing on the wing."
Over the next few years, the bodies of the six crew members were recovered and identified.
Vincent traveled to Tulsa from the DFW Airport. The Tulsa Fire Department gave the Marine a water cannon salute as his body arrived.