Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Welcome Home Staff Sergeant Norman L. Nell

We have all lost a close friend or family member at some time in our lives. It is a very painful time to live through. It is impossible to imagine the pain John and Veda Nell must have felt. Their only Son went off to serve his country and failed to return. Both of them went to their graves without knowing what happened to him. Sixty Three years later their question has been answered. Welcome Home Sergeant Nell.

"Military IDs Tarkio missing vet from WWII

Ken Newton
Senior Reporter/Columnist

Thelma Woolsey remembers the determination of John and Veda Nell in trying to learn the fate of their only child.After the plane carrying Staff Sgt. Norman L. Nell failed to return to its New Guinea base in 1944, his parents in Tarkio, Mo., began years of inquiry into what happened. Both would eventually die without the answers they sought."They never could come up with what happened to him," recalled Ms. Woolsey, a high school classmate of Norman's. "It was very sad because it just devastated both of them."Sixty-three years later, the Defense Department has closed the book on this mystery in the Pacific.Its POW/Missing Personnel Office announced Monday in Washington that Mr. Nell and nine of his fellow crew members have been identified by military forensics experts.Acting on a 2001 report to the U.S. embassy in New Guinea, a field officer from the Army's Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii located the B-24 Liberator crash site at about 4,700 feet in the country's Finesterre Ranges.The plane had been missing since April 16, 1944, nicknamed "Black Sunday" by some because American forces lost about three dozen aircraft to a severe and unexpected weather front.The bomber carrying Mr. Nell, an assistant engineer, was returning from a mission near Hollandia. The pilot acknowledged an order to head for an airfield in Saidor, veering away from the weather, but that became the plane's last radio transmission.Searchers found the plane about 800 yards from another B-24 also lost on that mission.The military team, which began its excavation of the crash site in 2002, located several identification tags, aircraft engine serial numbers and human remains. Dental records and DNA analysis helped in the identification of individuals."They found (Norman's) class ring," said Ms. Woolsey, who graduated from Tarkio High School with Mr. Nell in 1941. They attended Tarkio College together the next year, then Mr. Nell joined the military.No funeral arrangements have been confirmed. A headstone rests in a Tarkio cemetery honoring Mr. Nell, though Ms. Woolsey knows of no relatives that remain in the area.Navy veteran John Howell of Tarkio served in the Pacific during World War II and remembers Mr. Nell as an upperclassman at the high school. Mr. Howell went into the service in 1944."There were a lot of us who went (from Tarkio)," Mr. Howell said Tuesday. "I can name several that didn't come back."The National Archives indicates that Atchison County, Mo., suffered 41 casualties during World War II, including 27 service members who were killed in action.An American Legion member 61 years, Mr. Howell said he does not know if the Tarkio post includes a photograph of Mr. Nell on its wall of honor. "Back then, there weren't too many pictures taken," he said. "We didn't think about not coming back."


I have the feeling that Mr. & Mrs. Nell and their Son Norman are all together now. May they all Rest In Peace.


Thanks go to:
The St. Joseph News-Press

God Bless America, God Save The Republic

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