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Hartselle Enquirer

Gone, but not forgotten

Last weekend, my wife, Lynn, and I attended a family update meeting sponsored by the Department of Defense in Nashville. The update was for families of American soldiers who never returned home from past conflicts.
Lynn has an uncle who was killed in World War II while acting as a radio operator in a transport flight over what was then known as Burma.  His company was responsible for flying supplies to soldiers in China. Hal Roberts was only 20 years old at the time of his death and was a corporal in the Army Air Force as it was then known.  His parents were notified in July 1945 that he was missing in action. His status was later changed to killed in action and his family was told that his remains were not recoverable.
As a parent of two boys, I cannot imagine what Hal’s parents went through.  They had not only lost a son, but they also weren’t able to have closure by burying his remains.  Hal’s death was never discussed by his father or mother, who died a short time after Hal. Family members even felt that she died of a broken heart.  Both his father and mother passed away without being able to bury their son.
However, a couple of years ago, Lynn was contacted by a WWII veteran who served with Hal.  He said an individual who worked on locating crash sites believed he had found remains of the C46 transport plane that had crashed in 1945 in a jungle area. The photo evidence showed the number on the tail section was one that had been assigned to Hal’s plane.  Also, the nickname given to the plane was also visible.
The information was forwarded to JPAC (Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command) and Lynn has been in contact with this group as to any recovery efforts that would be made.  Unfortunately, the U.S. doesn’t currently have good relations with the country and recovery efforts are not possible at this time.
Hopefully, this will change in the near future and we would be able to bring Hal’s remains back home and bury them next to his parents who never stopped grieving for their lost son.  While we were in Nashville 250 families were present hoping to learn more about the possibility of finding their missing loved ones. The memories and emotions still run very high for the survivors and hopefully our government will be able to bring closure and a feeling of peace to those who survived thorough their continued recovery efforts.  “Until they are All Home” was a statement that was used about the recovery efforts. They are words that will speak to your heart.
Randy Garrison is the general manager of the Hartselle Enquirer.

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