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WWII veteran laid to rest at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery after remains identified 80 years later

Posted: 5:10 PM, Jul 08, 2024
Updated: 2024-07-08 18:47:15-04
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LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — World War II veteran 2nd Lt. John McLauchlen was laid to rest at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery on Monday, more than 80 years after he was killed in action while serving as a bomber pilot in Burma.

It was a heartwarming homecoming for John McLauchlen's nephew, Richard McLauchlen, who provided military scientists with the genetic sample that helped identify the veteran's remains in January.

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WWII veteran John McLauchlen was laid to rest at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery on July 8, 2024, over 80 years after he was killed in action while serving as a bomber pilot in Burma.

“I knew his name, his relationship to my father, but I didn’t really personally know him, but it’s not that way anymore," Richard McLauchlen said.

While growing up, Richard McLauchlen's father would share fond childhood memories he had with his brother, but he never got to meet his uncle, so over the past few years, he's taken it upon himself to get to know him by researching his story.

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According to him, there's no living person — besides his older sister who was 1 year-old when their uncle died — left who knew his uncle.

“Well, one of the things that I knew, is that he didn’t want to be forgotten, and now that he’s here in this cemetery, he’ll never be anonymous again," Richard McLauchlen said.

Like Richard McLauchlen, a veteran himself, other military members say they were honored to be part of the service on Monday.

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Michael Goodwin

“We’re able to give the family a lot of closure today to bring a fallen service member home," Michael Goodwin said.

Richard McLauchlen said his uncle acted heroically on that fateful December day in 1943, just 11 months after enlisted in the military. He said the bomber pilot lead a successful mission that day before Japanese fighter pilots began shooting at his plane.

“Once they started taking fire and stuff, and with that smoking wing, my uncle decided to drop out of the formation so that his plane wouldn’t cause anyone else to get shot down," he said.

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Richard McLauchlen, who lives in St. Joseph, Missouri, said it's important his uncle was laid to rest so close to home.

"I'm going to come down and visit him once and awhile," he said.

It's possible John McLauchlen's story isn't over. Richard McLauchlen, with the help of his wife who works in genealogy, said they've found the first and middle names of his uncle's wife, who was unbeknownst to the McLauchlen family. The couple are hoping to find her or her family by continuing their research.