Missouri family gets answers after 8 decades of questions regarding a World War II soldier
“This is Mission accomplished. He’s home. We love it.”
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Nearly eight decades ago, a Missouri man joined the crew of a B-17 Flying Fortress as it soared into Germany to attack a factory. The plane crashed. Four men died and disappeared. Here’s the story of the man who remembered the missing men overseas until he saw a mission accomplished.
Most stories start at the beginning. This begins with a resolution, one 79 years in the making for Melvin Meyer and his family.
“We brought him back home,” says John Faul of The Patriot Guard.
To understand the journey, we have a guide. You might call Jess Hauskins the historian of the Yankee Doodle Dandy. Ten men, including Jess’s dad, started the mission in 1944 on that B-17 bomber.
“My father was underneath the plane in what was called the ball turret,” explained Jess Hauskins. His father survived the crash. “Melvin was riding in the nose of the plane. He’s the bombardier.”
On that May day, German fighters attacked the Yankee Doodle Dandy flying as the lead aircraft. Four airmen wrestled to keep the plane in the air long enough so the other six could survive.
“I heard about these guys as a kid. And I learned about their sacrifice,” reflected Hauskins.
“It wouldn’t be until 2012 when the military would find the crash site of the B-17 bomber, the Yankee Doodle Dandy. From there, the remains and artifacts were shipped to Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska for identification. "
For the military’s forensic anthropologists, the stitches on the boot are a clue, as well as the Bible in a heated flight jacket. Then, there’s the shiny metal on a shirt.
“So, his navigator wings are actually still attached to his service shirt,” says Dr. Sarah Kindschuh.
“(It) Saddened the crew to see the remains of their plane. But much worse, they knew the remains of their buddies were there in the still-smoldering wreckage. This scene haunted my dad,” Jess told those gathered at St Gianna Catholic Church.
He referenced a quote from an English poet, ”Tell them of us for your tomorrow’s they gave their today to today when you’re home, and I’ve told them of you, you did your sacrifice.”
Jo Ann Hogan calls Melvin Meyer “my daddy’s brother.” She remembers the kind guy helping other kids. He became the guy who sacrificed so much so others could live.
“I think it’s absolutely marvelous. All these men, a lot of these people, do all that work to get these men home,” says Hogan.
“This is Mission accomplished. He’s home. We love it,” says the daughter of Melvin’s widow Mary Bushman.
For Melvin’s family, this brings answers to 8 decades of questions. For Jess Hauskins, it’s a chance to honor his dad’s memories of 10 men.
“Wow. Service, loyalty, dedication, sacrifice,” concluded Jess Hauskins:
The B-17 crew named the plane The Yankee Doodle Dandy after meeting the famous actor James Cagney. Cagney starred in the film of the same name.
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