World War II pilot, killed in 1945, laid to rest in Calverton

12/02/2017 11:18 PM |

More than 72 years after his plane was shot down outside Hamburg, Germany, Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Robert Mains was buried at Calverton National Cemetery Saturday.

Lt. Mains, a Rochester native who was 27 years old at the time he was killed, was a pilot on a mission to attack German airbases on April 4, 1945, when his plane took fire from enemy forces, according to a Department of Defense press release.

Of the 10 men on the plane that day, only one survived, but was captured after he parachuted into the town of Ludwigslust.

Saturday’s funeral, which began with a Mass at Saint Philip & James Church in St. James, brought to a close a decades long effort to identify and recover Lt. Mains’ remains. The personal effects of the other eight passengers had been identified by the surviving airman soon after the crash, the DOD said.

In August 1997, a Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command worked with a local in Ludwigslust to examine a site sketch created in 1948 to identify the crash location. In 2014 and 2015 multiple recovery teams excavated the site and sent remains for analysis. Lt. Mains was identified using DNA analysis, the DOD said.

Lt. Mains is one of more than 400,000 Americans killed during World War II. Nearly 73,000 service members are still unaccounted for, according to the DOD.

Top Caption: Army Major Bryan Herken salutes as members of the U.S. Army National Guard’s Military Funeral Honors Program carry the flag-draped coffin of 1st Lt. Robert L. Mains. (Credit: Elizabeth Wagner)

The funeral procession of First Lieutenant Robert L. Mains arrives at Calverton National Cemetery. ( Credit: Elizabeth Wagner)

Luis Celeste of the U.S. Army National Guard’s Military Funeral Honors Program prepares the coffin of First Lieutenant Robert L. Mains. (Credit: Elizabeth Wagner)

Members of the U.S. Army National Guard’s Military Funeral Honors Program carry the flag-draped coffin of First Lieutenant Robert L. Mains to his burial site. (Credit: Elizabeth Wagner)

Funeral services of First Lieutenant Robert L. Mains. (Credit: Elizabeth Wagner)

Major Bryan Herken serving out of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, NJ, honors Robert L. Mains’ family after presenting the Purple Heart. (Credit: Elizabeth Wagner)

Members of the U.S. Army National Guard’s Military Funeral Honors Program salute the flag-draped coffin of First Lieutenant Robert L. Mains. (Credit: Elizabeth Wagner)

Members of the U.S. Army National Guard’s Military Funeral Honors Program salute the flag-draped coffin of First Lieutenant Robert L. Mains. (Credit: Elizabeth Wagner)

Members of the U.S. Army National Guard’s Military Funeral Honors Program salute the flag-draped coffin of First Lieutenant Robert L. Mains. (Credit: Elizabeth Wagner)

Members of the U.S. Army National Guard’s Military Funeral Honors Program salute the flag-draped coffin of First Lieutenant Robert L. Mains. (Credit: Elizabeth Wagner)

Members of the U.S. Army National Guard’s Military Funeral Honors Program salute the flag-draped coffin of First Lieutenant Robert L. Mains. (Credit: Elizabeth Wagner)

Members of the U.S. Army National Guard’s Military Funeral Honors Program salute the flag-draped coffin of First Lieutenant Robert L. Mains. (Credit: Elizabeth Wagner)

First Lieutenant Robert L. Mains’ family members place roses on his casket. (Credit: Elizabeth Wagner)

First Lieutenant Robert L. Mains’ family members place roses on his casket. (Credit: Elizabeth Wagner)

First Lieutenant Robert L. Mains’ grandson Matthew Giannelli of Port Jefferson places a rose on his casket. (Credit: Elizabeth Wagner)

First Lieutenant Robert L. Mains’ daughter Barbara O’Brien of Stony Brook places a rose on his casket. (Credit: Elizabeth Wagner)

The Patriot Guard Riders honored First Lieutenant Robert L. Mains at Calverton National Cemetery. (Credit: Elizabeth Wagner)

The casket containing the remains of First Lieutenant Robert L. Mains at Calverton National Cemetery. (Credit: Elizabeth Wagner)

The gravestone of First Lieutenant Robert L. Mains at Calverton National Cemetery. (Credit: Elizabeth Wagner)

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