A U.S. serviceman has finally made it back home, some 75 years after he was killed in combat in World War II.
Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Vincent L. Politte of Leavenworth was laid to rest with full military honors Monday morning at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery.
“We’re at peace now,” said Leo Politte, Vincent’s brother. “We have put him to rest. It’s closure.”
Politte, a 1941 graduate of Immaculata High School, was killed Aug. 1, 1943, while participating in an air raid on an oil refinery complex in Romania during Operation Tidal Wave. Their mission was to destroy the refineries in the area in order to hamper the German war effort.
During the raid, Politte’s B-24 Liberator aircraft was hit by machine gun fire and crashed. Politte was killed. He was 19 years old.
His remains could not be identified. But in April 2016, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) was able to identify Politte’s remains.
Shortly after what would have been Politte’s 94th birthday, the family was notified that his remains had been identified.
And his remains were returned to his family in Leavenworth.
“We never believed this would happen,” Leo Politte said.
Politte was buried with full military honors Monday, beginning with a procession into Fort Leavenworth, escorted by motorcycle riders of the Patriot Guard. The procession passed underneath a huge U.S. flag suspended by fire truck ladders on Grant Avenue.
“We got to escort a fellow veteran home,” said Tom Poulter, who rode with the Patriot Guard.
Numerous soldiers and civilians stood along the procession route and held flags.
The procession was followed by a funeral service at the Pioneer Chapel on post.
The funeral procession then went to Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery where a U.S. flag was given to Politte’s family.
The service included a gun salute and the playing of taps. A K-135 from Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska, did a flyover before a bagpipe trio played “Amazing Grace.”
The family then attended a reception and met with the media at the Frontier Conference Center on post.
Phil Politte, another of Vincent’s brothers, said that it inspires him to know that “the culture of the military still exists. They still honor their dead.”