SUFFOLK, Va. - Human remains found in the wreckage of a World War II bomber in New Guinea have been identified as a 24-year-old airman who disappeared on a stormy night in 1943.
The remains of Charles "Buddy" Feucht were identified through DNA testing.
His sister Fern Lord, who had submitted a vial of her blood for DNA comparison, got the news Thursday.
"It's been so long," said Lord, 83. "Every day, you wake up and wonder if this is the one."
Feucht, a bombardier aboard a B-24 Liberator, was part of a formation looking for Japanese ships during a violent thunderstorm when his plane separated from the others to take a closer look at the water below. He and the rest of his nine-man crew vanished.
A hunter in the New Guinea jungle discovered the rusted wreckage of the plane in 2002. He collected a human bone and a handful of metal ID tags and delivered them to the U.S. Embassy in Papua New Guinea, along with the plane's tail number and location.
An excavation crew traveled to the site the following year and found more bones, teeth and ID bracelets inside the shattered cockpit.
Johnny Johnson, a specialist with the Army's Casualty and Mortuary Affairs operations center in Alexandria, declined Friday to say whether the others had been identified because other crewmates' families have not been contacted.
Buddy Feucht was one of two sons in the war. The family's farmhouse in the small Ohio town of Reynoldsburg was never locked, in case he came home. Today, Lord and her 85-year-old sister, Mary, are the only remaining members of his immediate family.
"God kept us on this earth just long enough so we could find out what happened to him," Lord said. "I don't know whether to laugh or cry."
Feucht's remains will be flown under military escort to Ohio, where he will be buried with full military honors beside his parents.