Marine killed in 1944 crash to be honored

June 6, 2012 at 3:03 PM
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PLYMOUTH, Mich., June 6 (UPI) -- A young U.S. Marine who disappeared 68 years ago in a World War II plane crash is to be buried this week with his family in Michigan.

The remains of Pfc. John Albert Donovan were discovered recently with those of six other Marines and the wreckage of their PBJ-1 plane, the Lansing (Mich.) State Journal reported. They crashed in 1944 on the island of Espiritu Santu in what was then known as the New Hebrides and is now the nation of Vanuatu.

Donovan, who was known as Bert to his family, was 22 when he died. He is to be buried Friday with military honors in the family plot in Plymouth.

The plane crashed while on a training mission. Donovan and other members of the crew were declared dead in 1945.

Josephine Demianenko, the only survivor among Donovan's five siblings, remembers getting the telegram that said her big brother was missing and giving it to her mother when she returned home from a meeting at church, the newspaper said.

"She was very shocked," Demianenko said.

The plane was long thought to have crashed at sea. An expedition looking for another downed plane discovered the wreckage in 1994, but getting the remains of the crew out of the mountainous area and then identifying them took years.

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