ROCK ISLAND, Ill.— After 70 years, Lt. Louis L. Longman, of Clinton, finally has been laid to rest with full military honors in the Rock Island Arsenal National Cemetery.
First Lt. Chaplin Jacob Grenier, of Muscatine, performed Catholic burial rites and delivered a poignant eulogy as about 200 military personnel and dignitaries, family, friends, and a large audience - including a large contingent of Patriot Riders - came to pay their final respects Saturday. The program was a fitting tribute for an Iowa son who made the ultimate sacrifice in World War II, and whose remains were discovered in Papua, New Guinea, seven years ago. Intense feelings of pride and patriotism permeated the large crowd; many lingered more than an hour in the balmy afternoon sun, conversing with family and friends.
After the traditional rifle volleys and the playing of Taps, a “missing man formation” flyover by F-16 military fighter jets concluded the ceremony.
Longman, who was 26 when he was last seen April 16, 1944, served with the U.S. Army Air Corps Air Force. His unit was on the return leg of a B-25 bomber escort mission over Hollandia, New Guinea, 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, which became known as “Black Sunday.
Although he was officially declared dead Feb. 27, 1946, 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 eventually determined the physical evidence of the plane crash and possible human remains were that of Longman.
In a special ceremony after Longman’s, SFC Byron “Phil” Harris, retired, received a special award from the Arsenal Commandant and Iowa National Guard for 32 years of meritorious service and four foreign deployments, including two in Iraq.