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Remains of Arizona pilot killed in WWII returned to Prescott

PHOENIX — An Arizona man killed in the Pacific Theater during World War II has finally come home.

USA Today reported the remains of 1st Lt. Herbert V. “Buddy” Young Jr. were interred in Prescott last week, 70 years after his B-24 bomber was shot down over New Guinea.

Young’s daughter, Diana Young Long, was originally contacted in March by the Army informing her that some remains had been recovered from the crash site by PacificWrecks, a nonprofit group. She was informed last month they were identified as her father’s using DNA evidence.

“It’s not much,” she said in a video interview. “Just some teeth and a few bones.”

Young was born in Jerome, Ariz. and attended Clarkdale High School. He met his future wife, Zoeleen McLain, while there. The couple married a few months before the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

Shortly after, Young had enlisted and was taught to fly planes at Williams Field in Mesa, Ariz. He was then deployed to fight the Japanese before Long was born.

By April 10, 1944, according to family lore, Buddy Young had flown 300 hours of combat missions and was scheduled to come home. Instead, he volunteered to fill in as co-pilot next to 1st Lt. Bryant E. Poulson aboard a B-24 bomber nicknamed “Hot Garters.”

“I always heard he was not supposed to be flying,” [Long] said softly.

An account from another pilot told how Young’s plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire and “disintegrated” at about 10,000 feet. Several airmen made it out of the plane, but all were killed or are still missing in action.

Nearly 100 people attended Young’s Prescott funeral.

“Now he’s back in these beautiful mountains and valleys where he grew up,” the minister said, “surrounded by people who love him.”

His casket was lowered into the ground. A gravestone lay nearby with Buddy’s name and a brief epitaph: “Killed in Action April 10, 1944. Welcomed home Oct. 15, 2014”

Other remains recovered from the crash will be buried in a single plot at Arlington National Cemetery.