DENVER (CBS4) — A World War II airman from Denver has been buried nearly 70 years after his death.
Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. John J. Bono was buried Friday at Fort Logan National Cemetery. The U.S. military’s DNA program recently identified his remains.
“When she told me about Johnny’s remains arriving at DIA it brought tears in our eyes,” said Bono’s cousin Jack LaBondee.
LaBondee was a teenager the last time he saw Bono.
“We’ve got photos of Johnny and his wife at the wedding and there’s the original obituary,” said family member Jerry LaBondee.
Sixty-seven years ago Bono and 7 other crewman disappeared when their B-17G Flying Fortress crashed in Germany. The bomber crashed on Sept. 13, 1944. All but one person on board were killed. One body was found after the war but the locations of the others was unknown.
“The pilot was picked up but at that time we lost all contact and we don’t know the final situation but we do know he was buried in that area in Germany,” said Jerry.
In 1991, a German who was digging a grave found American dog tags, but U.S. officials say they couldn’t get access to the site until 2007.
In 2008, U.S. officials found three more sets of dog tags, including Bono’s. They identified his remains using DNA, dental records and other evidence.
“So many of our family never got to know Johnny. He went away at a very early age. Now we know him a little better,” said LaBondee.
Bono’s wife passed away about 10 years ago. There were about 40 family members at Friday’s 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.