While on a mission
near the island of Espiritu Santo in the South Pacific, 20-year-old Marine Pfc. John Albert Donovan, along with six of his crew members, went missing aboard a Marine Corps PBJ-1 bomber in 1944. The plane and crew were presumed lost at sea at the time.
However, later that year, a privately funded mission located the wreckage along with some remains on a remote island during a search for another plane lost in the same area.
Over the years and multiple trips to the island, more remains have since been found with the search continuing until 2011. According to the military, the collected remains were finally identified this year after a DNA test was conducted using samples from family members for comparison.
At the age of 21, Donovan was officially declared dead in April of 1945 and at last, after 68 years, laid to rest in his home state of Michigan.
Pfc. John Albert Donovan received all the pomp and circumstance afforded to all fallen Marines. Donovan's flag-draped casket was solemnly carried in and out of the church by a Marine honor guard. The flag was folded meticulously at the graveside ceremony before being presented to his lone surviving sibling, 82-year-old Josephine "Dody" Demianenko.
After the burial, Tim Donovan, nephew of the deceased told The Associated Press
, "This is closure. It's something that's long overdue."
Donovan's nephew added, "It's just bittersweet. It's bitter because my dad and my grandmother weren't here to experience this. However, he's at home, and he's with his family."
Only a portion of Donovan's remains were buried at the Old St. Patrick Cemetery family plot Friday. According to his nephew, the rest will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in October, where after nearly seven decades, Pfc. John Albert Donovan will also join the rest of his crew killed in the crash.