The military’s DNA program recently identified the remains of staff sergeant John Bono. He disappeared after a mission over Germany.
“There was a mission to bomb a synthetic oil complex over Masburg, Germany. What was to be his last mission,” said Virgil Urban, who is married to Bono’s niece, Mary Jo.
Of the nine people on board, Bono was the only one who survived.
“He always called me Jojo,” said Mary Jo.
She was only 8 when Bono disappeared.
“My grandmother, it ate her up because she always thought he’d come home and he didn’t,” said Mary Jo.
Virgil served in Korea. He never met Bono, but feels like he knew him.
“I try and picture myself in that airplane at those last few minutes,” said Virgil. “How scared they were. It gets to me.”
In 1991, a German was digging a grave in a cemetery when he found a set of dog tags. It took 17 years for the U.S. military to get permission to obtain the remains.
Mary Jo found out that the remains of her uncle may have been found when she received a phone call asking for a sample of her DNA.
“It was shocking. I really didn’t believe it,” said Mary Jo. “I thought, ‘Oh, this can’t be true. It just can’t.'”
After 67 years, Bono’s remains are home. Burial services are scheduled for Friday morning at Fort Logan National Cemetery.
“The last piece of the puzzle to our family is now in place. Johnny is now home,” said Mary Jo.
Bono’s wife passed away about 10 years ago. There are about 40 family members expected at the service.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died. There are more than 73,000 unaccounted for.