The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Features

April 11, 2014

Stars and stripes to fly at half-staff

Honor for WWII pilot from Clinton

CLINTON — Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has ordered all flags in Iowa to be flown at half-staff from 5 p.m. today until 8 a.m. Monday in honor of a World War II airman, whose remains were recovered more than 70 years after being killed in action.

Lt. Louis L. Longman, a 26-year old at the time he was last seen April 16, 1944, was a Clinton native. He served with the U.S. Army Air Corps Air Force and when he was last seen, his unit was returning from a B-25 bomber escort mission over Hollandia, New Guinea.

Longman was on the return leg of the mission when his unit encountered severe weather in the Markham Valley. Longman’s last reported location was in the vicinity of Bogadjim, New Guinea, as his formation broke up. The 5th Air Force lost 53 pilots and crewmen that day in what became known as “Black Sunday.”

Although he was officially declared deceased on Feb. 27, 1946, he will finally be laid to rest Saturday at the Rock Island National Cemetery after his remains were recovered in 2007 by local residents of New Guinea. Through a series of investigations, the Joint Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command — Central Identification Laboratory were eventually able to determine that the physical evidence of the plane crash and possible human remains were that of Longman.

Because of that, flags will be at half-staff on the State Capitol building and on flag displays in the Capitol Complex, and upon all public buildings, grounds and facilities throughout the state.

Individuals, businesses, schools, municipalities, counties and other government subdivisions also are encouraged to fly the flag at half-staff for the same length of time as a sign of respect.

A practice of flying flags at half-staff has been common among Iowa state leaders since 9/11, and Iowa National Guard Col. Greg Hapgood said each governor uses their own discretion when ordering the lowering of the flags. For them, it is an act of showing respect to the sacrifice a soldier killed in action has given.

“Even though this happened 70 years ago, this pilot has never received his due,” Hapgood said. “This is our opportunity, in a very visual way, to show our respect for him and his service. The bottom line is he deserves this honor.”

Amy Kent can be reached at amykent@clintonherald.com.

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