76 years after his death, a World War II (WWII) pilot has finally been laid to rest.
According to a news release from the Department of Defense, US Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Ernest N. Vienneau was 25 years old when his plane was shot down over present-day Slovenia in 1944.
During a mission, his B-17 Flying Fortress bomber came under intense fire, and a piece of flank ripped through the cockpit and struck Vienneau in the head, killing him, according to the release.
The crew treated him and attempted to return to base, but were forced to abandon the plane off the Croatian coast with Vienneau’s body inside.
According to the announcement, his remains were located last fall after employees explored the crash site discovered in 2005.
In April, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) used dental and anthropological studies, as well as circumstantial and material evidence, to confirm his identity.
Vienneau’s ashes were subsequently returned to his hometown of Millinocket, Maine, where he was interred alongside his parents on Saturday.
As veterans, we take care of our own the best we can and their families. It’s been very emotional for a lot of people up here and to find somebody from World War II. It doesn’t happen too often,” Paul L’Heureux, Department Adjutant for the American Legion Department of Maine, told CNN affiliate WABI.
WABI reported that members of his family, veterans, and the community all gathered to pay their respects.
Vienneau’s name has been added to the Walls of the Missing at the Florence American Cemetery in Impruneta, Italy, by the American Battle Monuments Commission, and a rosette will be added to mark he has been found.