Red Dirt Diaries: Piece of the Past Helps Okla. Family Honor Fallen Soldier
Oklahoma City, OK - An old piece of metal is helping a metro family honor the legacy of their loved one, a fallen soldier.
George Cohlmia, 19, crashed his airplane while returning from a post WWII parade in Washington D.C. in 1945.
The Navy gunner was from Watonga.
“When I came home from school, my mom had fainted on the front porch, so I knew something was wrong,” says Dr. Ray Cohlmia, George’s younger brother by three years.
Ray has paid tribute to his fallen brother ever since.
In 2012, he and his family found out about a memorial at the crash site in the deep woods near Ligonier, Pennsylvania.
“I just had to go, that’s all there was to it,” says Ray.
Two trips were actually needed to find the site. The Labtrobe, Pennsylvaina newspaper wrote about the family’s trek.
Just last month, Ray received something else from the crash site.
It was a piece of aircraft with some writing detailing the crash date: Oct. 8th,1945.
“Our thoughts were, ‘What do we do with this?’ It was such an important piece,” says Dan Moyer from Ohio, who had found the piece of the plane while going through the belongings of his late father.
Moyer says it was actually his grandfather who lived near the crash site and originally took the piece.
"Tragically, George didn't make it through, but yet what he left for his family and legacy for the rest of us to live on in our freedoms never ends," adds Moyer.
Moyer says old newspaper articles from 2012 made it easy to track down the Cohlmia family in Oklahoma City.
“I couldn’t believe it. People care,” says Ray about the discovery.
“Really, it’s just a piece of junk, but to me, it’s a piece of something that I always loved,” says Ray.
The retired dentist tells News 9, his nephew George will get to keep the forever link to his namesake.