The Remains of a World War Two Pilot Make It Home

Capt. Albert L. Schlegel and a Fighter Group P-51D Quartet.
Capt. Albert L. Schlegel and a Fighter Group P-51D Quartet.

The remains of Capt. Albert Schlegel arrived in Beaufort, Ga., March 27, 73 years after he disappeared in World War II, when his P-51 fighter disappeared during a mission from England to France.

His casket was carried by members of the Military Honours Team after being flown into Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport followed by a service few will forget.

Captain Albert Schlegel, also known as Uncle Sonny to his only living relative in South Carolina, is now in Beaufort.

Helping by providing closure and determining the precise events of what happened to his remaining family has been a tremendous experience, said Jake Lague, a Casualty Assistance Officer.

At 25 years of age, Schlegel had been a pilot when an enemy fire brought his plane down.

He ascended into the clouds, radioed he had been hit, and he was never heard from again until 2016, said Perry Nuhn, Schlegel’s nephew.

That occurred when the Defense MIA Agency had identified his remains overseas.

The entire process that staff at the agency went through to identify his remains was amazing. It has been an honor to be part of that, Lague said.

Now, the fallen serviceman has been returned home to his family.  With the assistance of the Georgia Patriot and Carolina guards, he was escorted back to Beaufort.

Every mission is significant, but this one is slightly different, said Ric Aaron, with the Georgia Patriot Guard.  It is not every day someone from his era gets to welcome home a Second World War veteran killed in combat, WSAV-TV reported.

A situation like this is what he grew up reading about in history books, so to be a part of welcoming this brave man home and taking him to his final resting place has been a wonderful honor for him, Lague said.

The ceremony was scheduled on March 30 when he was buried at the Beaufort National Cemetery in South Carolina.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE