Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Remains of Marine who disappeared in 1944 return to U.S.

1st Lt. Laverne A. Lallathin, 22, vanished with six crew members of a B-25 in the South Pacific during World War II. DNA testing of his niece and nephew prove the remains are his. The remains are to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery this year.
Photo: Mellissia Christensen cries during a ceremony for her uncle, 1st Lt. Laverne A. Lallathin, whose remains were recently recovered from a B-25 wreck in the South Pacific.

His last letter home to his father is written in tight script on paper that has yellowed. It's dated Feb. 20, 1944.

"Just a line Dad to say goodbye and don't worry too much," wrote Marine 1st Lt. Laverne A. Lallathin, 22. "I'm going over to end this thing as soon as possible. Buy as many bonds as you can and pray that I will be all-right."

A month later, Lallathin vanished along with six crew members of the B-25 bomber he was piloting from Espiritu Santo, the largest island in the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu.

"My grandmother went to her grave not knowing what had happened to her only son," said Verne Rainey, 60, Lallathin's nephew. "Not knowing had a huge effect on her throughout her life."

Now, more than 68 years after the uncle Rainey never met disappeared during World War II, Lallathin has finally come home.

The remains of the Oklahoma native were found beginning in 2009 by members of the Defense Department's Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command. The crash site was among those sought during a three-year effort to comb the islands around Espiritu Santo, a key naval and air base during the war.

"That was a busy area, and we have a lot of downed planes there," said Hattie Johnson, head of POW/MIA affairs for the Marine Corps.

About 74,000 U.S. troops remain missing from World War II. Finding them is part detective work, part luck.

Initially, the fate of Lallathin and his crew was no mystery. The plane was located a month after it crashed into a mountainside during severe weather. A report was written — and promptly disappeared, lost in the chaos of war, Johnson said.

In the late 1980s, a private team searching for the remains of another pilot stumbled across the wreckage of Lallathin's B-25 — the clue that eventually led to his repatriation.

On Monday, Johnson gave Lallathin's dog tags to Rainey and his sister, Mellissia Christensen, during an informal memorial in Laguna Woods Village, where Christensen lives.

The siblings provided DNA samples that matched that of Lallathin's left femur — all that remains of their uncle.

"We knew Uncle Verne probably better than most people whose uncles are alive," Christensen, 61, said.

"We were very close to our grandparents, and they were always talking about him," she said. "They continued to hope and pray that someday he'd come home and walk through that front door."

Rainey was born Donald Laverne Rainey, but from a young age he was called Verne.

"My grandmother insisted that somebody carry on his name," Rainey said.

And so Verne Rainey has. "I was never really a Donald," he said.

His uncle will be buried this year in Arlington National Cemetery.


Anonymous said...

God rest his dear soul....so wonderful that this bright young man be so loved by his family....so sad his life was cut short....

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Anonymous said...

RIP 1st LT. Welcome Home, and hope this adds closure to your Family.

Anonymous said...

God bless him and ALL the vets. What's so troubling is that 70 years ago he climbed into a cockpit willing to die for this Country, and in fact he did. In 2012, we're so worried about gay marriage, providing never ending welfare to leeches & illegals, and not offending our enemies that it makes me sick.

19th ward blogger said...

From 19th ward blogger.

Another indictment in sheriff's office.

Deputy allegedly caught stealing at eviction by fBI. Wonder if Dart will make him the next Chief Deputy Sheriff!


19th ward blogger said...

Update: Dart had to call FBI to solve this case Deputy was under investgation for over 6 years.


Wednesday Suntimes reporting Deputy Spino was under investgation for six years but Dart was too busy saving puppies to investgate!


For years, complaints dogged Cook County Sherriff’s Deputy Samuel Spino. It seemed when Spino went into a home to evict tenants, things allegedly went missing — including video games, a video camera and a $5,000 watch, charges filed in federal court say. The Cook County Sheriff’s Department reached out to the FBI, asking the bureau to use its tactical expertise to investigate. The Cook County Sheriff’s office received its first complaints about one of its deputies back in 2006. Then, tenants complained that someone on a four-person team that included Spino pocketed their property, officials said. The department investigated but could not substantiate the allegations.

Anonymous said...

Great story! It is good that some of us still care enough to carry on this work.

I Voted For Obama said...

Obama would have never been elected if the greatest generation would still be in the majority.

Anonymous said...

Well said!!!!!!

I couldn't agree more!!!

Anonymous said...

His generation gave Mine a great gift, a gift paid for with blood and lives and We pissed it away in the name of "Diversity" What do We leave Our Kid's and Grandkid's? a fucking cesspool filled with Negro's and Beaners sucking the life out of America.

Anonymous said...

Remember Folks there's still over 2,000 missing in VietNam God bless Them all.

Mt Greenwood Hillbilly said...

Welcome home Loo.


Anonymous said...

GOD bless his and all family members of anyone who has served!

Anonymous said...

I Voted For Obama said...
Obama would have never been elected if the greatest generation would still be in the majority.

May 8, 2012 9:34 PM


I Voted For Obama said...

Thank you.

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