In 1941 he enlisted in the army and attended Field Artillery School. In 1942 he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. His training took him many places in the western U.S. and finally to South Carolina and Georgia.
On March 12, 1944 he was on his eighth mission flying his A-20G Havoc over Boram Airstrip near Wewak, Papua New Guinea. His plane began lagging behind. The plane was subsequently lost in the Prince Alexander Range. It was decades before a Papuan national found the crash site.
Remains and data plates from the engines were turned over to recovery teams and then to JPAC Central Identification Laboratory, Hickam Field, Hawaii. Positive identification was confirmed on August 28, 2013 by his sister Elaine.
Numerous family members and friends, many who never met him, have mourned his loss and worried about the circumstances for 69 years. Those who knew him remember well his kindness and friendship to people of all ages.
We honor you, Vernal Bird.