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)