POMEROY, Ohio — The remains of World War II soldier, Army Pfc. James Wilmer White arrived in Columbus, Ohio on Tuesday evening ahead of services planned for today (Saturday) in Meigs County, Ohio.
As reported by The Columbus Dispatch, gathered to honor White at John Glenn Columbus International Airport were members of the Ohio National Guard, as well as his niece Marie Johnson, 93, and great-niece, Rhonda Hendershot.
White’s remains were escorted home by personnel with the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office, who were also there to honor him on Tuesday. Also planned to provide escorts at some point along the route home were reportedly the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Columbus Police Department, and the Freedom Riders motorcycle group.
As previously reported by Ohio Valley Publishing (OVP), the funeral for Army Pfc. James Wilmer White will be held at Ewing-Schwarzel Funeral Home, Pomeroy. Funeral services will take place at noon. A public viewing will take place from 10 a.m. to noon at the funeral home. The public is also invited to take part in the services by lining the procession route along East Main Street from Court Street toward Reed and Baur Agency. Approximately 400 flags will be passed out to those lining the route.
According to the schedule for the services, at 12:30 p.m. the family and attendees will conclude the service inside the funeral home. At 12:40 p.m., Bagpiper Lt. Robert Ronan will play “Going Home” as the flag draped casket is placed in the funeral home’s horse drawn hearse. The release of doves will follow.
The procession will leave the funeral home turning onto Second Avenue and then on to Court Street. The procession will pause in front of the Meigs County Courthouse where local high school musicians will perform under the direction of Toney Dingess.
The procession, then led by drummers and local veterans who will present the colors will march onto East Main Street.
Local firefighters will be set up with ladder trucks near Reed and Baur Agency where the flag draped casket will be transferred from the horse drawn hearse to the traditional motorized hearse with local veterans serving as the pallbearers.
The procession, led by Sheriff Keith Wood, will then proceed through Chester to the White Family Cemetery on Bashan Road. Upon arrival at the cemetery, veterans in attendance will form a tunnel for the casket to be carried through.
At the graveside the Ohio National Guard will continue with the services.
White, who was from Chester, was killed in action during World War II, but his remains were not identified until last year.
According to a news release from the U.S. Army, a native of Chester, Ohio, White was assigned to Company E, 2rd Battalion, 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), also known as Merrill’s Marauders. After taking the airfield in Myitkyina, Burma, from the Japanese on May 17, 1944, White’s battalion was tasked with holding the airfield. A month and a half later, he was reported killed in action on July 2. Following the battle, his body could not be recovered.
The remains of servicemen killed during the battle were buried in at least eight different temporary cemeteries and numerous isolated burial locations. Eventually, all known burials were concentrated into the U.S. Military Cemetery at Myitkyina, including the remains of those who were not identified. In January and February 1946, all of the remains at the U.S. Military Cemetery were disinterred and transferred to the U.S. Military Cemetery at Kalaikunda, India. The exhumation of the U.S. Military Cemetery at Kalaikunda was conducted in September and October 1947.
One set of remains, designated Unknown X-52 Kalaikunda, was unable to be identified and was subsequently buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu, in March 1949.
In July 2018, the remains of service members from that battle were transferred to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
White was accounted for by the DPAA on Jan. 29, 2020 after his remains were identified using dental, anthropological and mitochondrial DNA analysis and circumstantial evidence.
His name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in Taguig City, Philippines, along with others still missing from World War II. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
Sarah Hawley and Beth Sergent contributed to this story.
Editor’s Note: The Daily Sentinel and OVP will provide coverage of the services in the upcoming Tuesday and Saturday editions, as well as online at mydailysentinel.com, www.mydailytribune.com and www.mydailyregister.com. OVP wishes to thank the staff at The Columbus Dispatch for providing photos and cutlines from the events on Tuesday at John Glenn Columbus International Airport. Follow the Dispatch’s coverage on this story at https://www.dispatch.com/.
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