Pulled from Koolaus, pilot’s body set to RIP
GARY, Ind. » A World War II Navy pilot whose remains were identified last year after being excavated from a mountainside crash site in Hawaii will be buried this summer, ending his family's long wait for his return.
Ensign Harry "Bud" Warnke's sister, 87-year-old Myrtle Tice, is waiting for warmer weather to bury her brother some 63 years after his death.
Tice, who lives in an Arizona retirement home and has difficulty getting about, will be assisted by her daughter in her journey to Indiana for the funeral. Warnke will be interred in an empty grave site that bears his name at Westville Cemetery about 20 miles east of Gary.
"Well, it will be -- I don't know how to say it. It will be ending anyway," Tice said.
Her brother's plane crashed on June 15, 1944, in the Koolau Range on Oahu as he was training in aerial dives.
According to military reports from the time, items and remains from the wreckage were collected and buried at the site shortly before the Gary native's unit left the island to support World War II efforts.
World War II historian Ted Darcy, who specializes in uncovering the whereabouts of missing soldiers, saw the wreckage himself in 1991 and contacted Tice.
Darcy discovered that a search team found part of Warnke's plane and remains three days after the crash. They had a funeral service on the spot.
But his relatives didn't know that until Darcy called Tice nearly 50 years after the crash because the military told them in 1944 that his plane had crashed into the Pacific Ocean.
It took another 15 years for Warnke's remains to be recovered and identified.
James Pokines, a forensic anthropologist, said last year that the crash site is within a natural preserve watershed area and is difficult to access by helicopter.
The group finally recovered the remains and identified Warnke last summer.