CHARLOTTE, NC (Mark Price/The Charlotte Observer) - The remains of a Rowan County soldier who vanished during World War II have been found and are being brought home this week for burial in his hometown of Gold Hill, 60 miles northeast of Charlotte.
Army Air Force Capt. Lamar S. Russell was a passenger on a flight out of Horanda, New Guinea, on Feb. 1, 1944 when the B-25-D aircraft vanish with 11 people aboard. The flight was on a passenger-ferrying mission to Port Moresby, Papau New Guinea.
The last radio contact with the aircraft took place while the plane was somewhere over the Owen Stanley Mountain Range, military officials said.
In March 1961, a team from the Royal Australian Air Force conducted an aerial search for a Papuan civilian aircraft that had recently crashed in the Kokoda Pass. During that search, the RAAF found 11 war-time Allied aircraft wrecks, including the one Russell was on, said U.S. Army officials.
After a recovery team turned up remains, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency lab in Honolulu identified them as the crew and passengers of B-25D-1 aircraft 41-30532 and buried them as a group in Arlington National Cemetery in 1963.
However, evidence later recovered at the site showed that Russell was not among those included in the recovery.
In November 2004, local villagers unearthed additional remains and material evidence at the crash site. Through careful analysis of DNA testing, the remains of Russell were positively identified, officials said.
He is being turned over to his next of kin for burial, in accordance with their wishes, said Army officials.
Russell's family, including a sister, remains in the Gold Hill area, officials said. He will be buried Sept. 24 at 1 p.m. in Gold Hill Cemetery. U.S.