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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Laid to rest 60 years later

Airmen laid to rest 60 yrs. later

WWII bombing crew lost in Pacific storm finally honored in Arlington rites

For nearly 60 years, 1st Lt. Frank Giugliano's remains lay in the shattered shell of a World War II bomber, lost deep in a sweltering South Pacific jungle.

The wreckage was seen only by local villagers too terrified of evil spirits to go near, so the New York bombardier and his crew members remained missing in action, presumed dead.

But the doomed bomber's crew of 11 men was never forgotten by Giugliano's family. And yesterday, they brought them home.

The Army Air Force man's cousins Saverio Giugliano, now 82, and Joe Cassese, 84, were at Arlington National Cemetery yesterday for the goodbye they had waited their lives to say.

"We grew up together, we were close," said Saverio, who refused to give up hope his cousin, who died aged 24, would be found.

"It was good to see this happen. It's good to know we brought him home."


"They would have liked that," Saverio said. "Losing Frank was tough on them, particularly his mother. She never accepted he'd gone."

Frank Giugliano, from Ozone Park, Queens, died in the April 16, 1944, bombing mission that resulted in the biggest noncombat aviation loss of the war.

As it returned with more than 300 other planes from successfully pounding Japanese airfields in Hollandia - now Jayapura in Indonesia - the bomber, dubbed Royal Flush, ran into a ferocious storm.

Flying in formation with five other Red Raider 408th Squadron Liberators and armed with maps that inaccurately judged the height of surrounding mountains, the Royal Flush entered dark clouds - and disappeared.


They found the cockpit caught in trees, a playing cards logo painted on its nose still visible. Human remains were where the airmen would have been seated.

Close to the bomb racks, Frank Giugliano's remains were found, still clad in a bomber jacket, his smashed sunglasses in a case in his pocket.

The young man, who went to school at Queens' Public School 63 and worked as a printer before enlisting, still had his dog tags around his neck.

Haugen said she read them and said, "Frank Giugliano, you're going home."

People, especially those who talk about war glibly, should take this to heart.

It never ends.

The men in this story are in their 80's, they survived WWII. Yet, their cousin's death remained an issue in their lives until it was resolved. There are people who cry to this day because they lost someone in Normandy or the Pacific.

When people talk about toughness and other nonsense, there is a family behind them. Always. When someone dies in combat, that is a loss to a family, not a statistic.

posted by Steve @ 12:54:00 AM

12:54:00 AM

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