WWII Pilot Finally Laid To Rest in Maine Hometown 76 Years After His Death

by Taylor Cunningham

US Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Ernest N. Vienneau, who died during WWII, was finally laid to rest in his hometown.

In 1944, enemy fire shot down the 25-year-old pilot as he was flying over present-day Slovenia.

“On Nov. 6, the B-17 Flying Fortress bomber on which he was serving as co-pilot came under heavy anti-aircraft fire while on a mission over Maribor, Yugoslavia, in present-day Slovenia,” read a press release. “During the barrage, a piece of flak penetrated the cockpit and struck Vienneau in the head, mortally wounding him.”

Vienneau’s fellow soldier attempted to treat his wounds, but they were unsuccessful. And as they were trying to return to base, they had to leave the soldier’s body behind. It wasn’t until last year that the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency found his remains.

Then in April, the DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis to identify the fallen WWII pilot. The military flew Vienneau back to his hometown of Millinocket, Maine. And on Saturday, they buried him next to his parents. During the service, veterans, community members, and Vienneau’s family members paid their respects.

“As veterans, we take care of our own the best we can and their families,” said Paul L’Heureux. “It’s been very emotional for a lot of people up here and to find somebody from World War II. It doesn’t happen too often.”

Vienneau’s name was commemorated on the Walls of the Missing at the Florence American Cemetery. And now that he’s in his final resting place, officials will place a rosette over his name.

The U.S. Military Posthumously Awarded Medals to an Army Soldier Who Fought and Died in WWII

On April 18th, 1945, Private Gordon Lee Hardy died while fighting in Germany during WWII. His death came less than three weeks before the Nazis surrender. And until recently, The United States had not recognized Private Hardy’s ultimate sacrifice.

This month, Congressman Barr commemorated Hardy’s bravery by posthumously awarding him with a Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Combat Infantry Badge, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medical with a Bronze Service Star, Army Good Conduct Medal, WWII victory medal, and an Honorable Service lapel pin. 

Hardy’s brother, Army Colonel Donald C. Hardy, accepted the metals.

 “Private Hardy was part of our greatest generation and gave the ultimate sacrifice so that all generations that came after him would have their freedoms and way of life preserved,” the congressman told Fox News. His story is an inspiration and no matter how many decades pass, his legacy and impact will never be forgotten.”

The gesture deeply touched Donald, who fought alongside his brother in WWII. His son, William, told Fox that Donald thought of his brother every single day. And the metals gave him a sense of peace and closure.

“It was an overwhelming experience for him to see those seven medals and know that (his brother) had finally been recognized after 76 years,” he said. “And at the age of 94, my father was overwhelmed with emotion. And that’s not something you see from that generation.”