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megimoo
01-25-2009, 02:04 PM
A Marine pilot's long journey home,video at link

CHARLESTON, S.C. - The rain fell steadily from an opaque sky, but the Marines stood ramrod straight, eyes fixed ahead. In the historic graveyard, the Rev. Peter Lanzillotta gazed down at the urn. "You served your country with a full measure of your devotion. We shall salute you and say hail and farewell, good and noble Marine."

A military honor guard gave a crackling three-volley salute. A bugler played "Taps." As loved ones dabbed their tears, fighter jets performed a flyover at the Unitarian Church of Charleston's cemetery.

The dead Marine, buried with full military honors, wasn't a veteran from Iraq or Afghanistan. Sixty-five years after his single-seat F-4U Corsair was shot down by the Japanese on Jan. 20, 1944, Major Marion Ryan McCown Jr. came home to rest. Twenty-five years old when he went to war, and 27 when he died, he would have turned 92 this month.

A true son of Charleston, he had strawberry blond hair with a stubborn cowlick on the right side, a degree from Georgia Tech, and a fondness for Laurel and Hardy.

Before he left for the war, he had asked his gal to marry him. Instead she went to his funeral, and heard him eulogized by a sister who was 3 months old when he died and a nephew who hadn't been born. The extended family, some 30 members, descended upon Charleston from various parts of the country to mourn a man they knew only through fading letters and family lore.

McCown's surprise homecoming began last year, when a military team assigned to recover the remains of World War II MIAs located the cockpit of his plane along with bone fragments near Rabaul in Papua New Guinea. Military personnel told reporters from the Globe, who had accompanied the team, that McCown had no known descendants. He would probably be buried in a military cemetery. And that was the end of the story.

Almost.

The Globe report on the Pentagon's push to recover soldiers still missing from World War II was published in May. In September, Blair McKinney happened to mention to a friend that she was heading to a family party in Tryon, N.C. Somehow her Uncle Ryan's name came up. It was odd, since no one much talked about him anymore. "He was an enigma," said McKinney, 41. "He disappeared off the face of the earth. We all just assumed he was in the ocean."
http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/01/25/a_marine_pilots_long_journey_home/