Family Gets Closure 63 Years After Airman’s Death

Tuesday, April 10th 2007, 8:08 pm
By: News On 6

The Department of Defense has identified the remains of an Oklahoma Airman, missing since World War II. News On 6 anchor Omar Villafranca reports more than 60 years later the family of Second Lieutenant George Eldon Archer can close a sad chapter in their life. Villafranca went to Cushing on Tuesday and talked with Archer's widow, nearly 63 years after her husband’s last mission.

At 23-years-old, 2nd Lt. Eldon Archer was running bombing missions in the South Pacific. Back home in Cushing, Oklahoma he was a romantic husband.

"He was a very affectionate person and we were very much in love,” said Archer’s widow Charlotte Magdeburg.

The day before Eldon's final mission he received a letter from home, in it was a picture of his loving wife holding their newborn baby girl. It would be the first and only time Eldon Archer would see his daughter. That same day, Eldon wrote his wife for the last time.

"And told me I looked like I was holding a little doll, and that I looked motherly," said Magdeburg.

The next day, on April 16, 1944, Eldon's B-24 Liberator was lost during a powerful storm.

"It was one of the most devastating times in my life," Magdeburg said.

After 22 months the U.S. military declared the crew of the B-24 dead.

Eldon's daughter grew up learning about her dad from family members.

"There was always pictures around when I was little of my dad, and they told me how smart he was, and how he graduated from high school when he was 16 and was valedictorian," Archer’s daughter Elaine Wells said.

Then, 57 years later, in 2001, the U.S. Military found a crashed B-24 in the mountains of New Guinea. At the site they found the remains of 10 U.S. servicemen, including Eldon Archer.

For the last few year, the Archer family honored Eldon at an empty gravesite in Cushing. Soon, they'll bury his discovered remains in Arlington National Cemetery. The Archer family says the ceremony at Arlington Cemetery will be a happy one.

Eldon's widow is glad they found his remains, but says she has always known where he was.

"Well, I know all this time he's been in Heaven, and I have peace about that," she said.

Charlotte later remarried and had two more children with Paul Magdeburg, also a World War II veteran.

Archer's remains will be buried with full honors at Arlington National Cemetery later this year. Charlotte and more than three generations of Archer's will travel to Virginia for the ceremony.

Related story:

4/10/2007 Remains Of Oklahoman Lost In World War II Crash Identified