MANTECA (AP) — Two U.S. servicemen whose remains were identified more than six decades after they were killed overseas during World War II will finally get funerals in their California hometowns.
The Defense Department says Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Homer Spence and Marine Corps Reserve Assistant Cook Frank Masoni will be buried Saturday with military honors. Spence was buried at Park View Cemetery in Manteca, and the service for Masoni is in Gilroy.
The plane Spence was piloting disappeared during a mission over southern Germany in July 1944. He was 22. Since the crash had occurred behind enemy lines, his wreckage was not discovered until 2010. His remains were identified using DNA analysis.
“It’s unfortunate that so many of his siblings are no longer with us,” said Clayton Spence, Homer Spence’s nephew. “So, in that way I feel unfortunate, but other than that it’s a great conclusion and great closure for our family.”
On Saturday, a plane flew over the funeral proceedings. It was similar to the one Homer Spence flew in World War II. There was also a 21-gun salute.
“It was actually kind of emotional, at least for me, just how small of a world it is” said Sydney Ramey, the pilot who flew the plane over the ceremony. “Not just that he was found, but was brought home, and for everyone to hear about it and pay their respects. We did it in our way and he did a great service to this country.”
Homer Spence’s sister, Viola Davis, is the only one of his siblings left out of seven.
“It makes a nice memory for me,” Davis said at the funeral. “I’m the only one left and I’m sure my mother and father are looking down. They were always so proud.”
Masoni was killed in November 1943 during a battle with Japanese forces on an island in the Pacific Ocean. He was 21. His remains were identified using dental and other records.