It is never too late to remember the courage and sacrifice of our fallen. Decades after vanishing during WWII, these two lost veterans are finally getting their day in the sun.
Carroll Heath enlisted in the Army immediately after graduating high school in 1940. He departed for the Philippines with the Army’s 1st Signal Training Battalion in December of 1941, but Heath never returned. Having grown up in the Great Depression, never known his father and lost his mother to severe mental illness, no one ever tried to find out what happened to young Carroll Heath. The teenager quietly slipped out of view, forgotten by history.
The story of this lost soldier was unearthed by Robert Mesches, a 92 year-old WWII veteran who was one of Heath’s former classmates. Mesches recruited his son Alan to track down any traces of Heath’s history, and they found that Heath was reported missing in action on May 7, 1941 in the Philippines. Heath’s remains have still not been found, but the Mesches are ensuring that Heath’s name is added to the WWII Memorial in his hometown. A fallen soldier, remembered at last.
On the other side of the globe, the remains of U.S. Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Alvin Beethe have been recovered and identified. The airman was a member of the 9th Air Force’s 393rd Fighter Squadron, 367th Fighter Group and the pilot of a P-39 Lightning airplane. Beethe was reported missing after his aircraft never returned from a bombing mission in Duren, Germany on Nov. 26, 1941. It was presumed that he was killed in action.
Although his remains weren’t found immediately after the war, a German citizen discovered the crash site of his aircraft in 2008. The Department of Defense excavated the site and found human remains in 2013. It quickly confirmed Beethe’s identity by comparing his DNA to that of his surviving cousin and nephew.
On May 22, 2015, it was announced that Beethe will be given a proper burial with full military honors. He has finally returned home.
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