Central Texas family buries remains of World War II airman killed in battle in 1944
KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - Almost 80 years after his death, a World War II airman was finally laid to rest at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery.
Lt. Wayne Dyer was killed by enemy soldiers during the war on May 29, 1944. Ever since then, Dyer’s family has been trying to locate his remains.
In 2012 the remains were discovered where he crashed in Germany during the war, and the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency later matched the remains to Lt. Dyer in 2022.
”There was no doubt it was him, he still had his uniform on, his dog tags were completely crushed,” Lt. Dyer’s second niece Sheri Striplng said.
At the time of his death the World War II airman was navigating a B-17 Flying Fortress Bomber during a bombing mission. His plane was shot down by enemy fighters outside of Nazi-occupied Leipzig, Germany.
”When the plane came down it went into a farmer’s field and the pilot was trying to keep him from exploding in the air, so he brought him down and the nose went down and the fire went out,” Sheri said.
Now 79 years later, the lieutenant was laid to rest in Killeen. Most of his descendants now live in Central Texas and they wanted to make sure he received a final farewell at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery.
At the funeral service a horse drawn carriage delivered his casket as his family, members of the Wind Therapy Freedom Riders and fellow veterans all paid their respects.
”The lieutenant in question today led the way for my organization to support themselves and fight the wars we needed to fight,” Tom Grove, military spokesperson for Wind Therapy Freedom Riders, said.
Although Lt. Dyer’s descendants never got to meet him before he was killed, they say they still feel a deep connection to him every day.
”I just wanna say I love you and I miss you so much,” Lt. Dyer’s third nephew Dakota Stripling said.
Lt. Dyer’s name is currently on the Tablets of the Missing at the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Hombourg, Belgium. The monument recognizes soldiers who are still missing from World War II. A rosette will later be placed next to his name to indicate he has now been accounted for.
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