Flags ordered to fly at half-staff for WWII veteran - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Flags ordered to fly at half-staff for WWII veteran

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Flags in Iowa will be flown half-staff this weekend to honor an Iowa veteran who was missing for 69 years.

World War II Airman Staff Sgt. Robert Howard was missing in action for 69 years, but finally Saturday he will be buried at Sunset View Cemetery in Moulton.

Gov. Terry Branstad has ordered flags to be flown in his honor at half-staff, starting Friday at 5 p.m. until Monday at 8 a.m.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert "Bobby" E. Howard was a Moulton, Iowa native. He was 21 when he served with the 450th Bomber Squadron, 322nd Bomber Group, Medium, 9th Air Force, U.S. Army Air Corps. 

He was last seen April 16, 1945 as his unit was conducting a bombing mission over Germany. His flight was shot down and crashed near Wittenburg, Germany. Only one of the six crew members was able to parachute from the aircraft and was taken prisoner by German forces. Howard and four other crew members were declared deceased, but their remains were never found.

In 2012, the Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command - Central Identification Laboratory (JPAC) received information from German officials of human remains found within a burial site located close to the possible aircraft crash site. In 2014, JPAC's Research and Analysis Group concluded a historical association drawn from Missing Air Crew Report #14463 and artifacts and human remains recovered at the excavation site. Mitochondrial DNA testing positively identified part of the remains belonging to Staff Sgt. Howard.

Howard's military awards and honors include the Purple Heart, Air Medal (with one silver and two bronze Oak Leaf Clusters), Army Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal (with three bronze service stars), World War II Victory Medal and Enlisted Crew Wings.

A memorial service will be held at Sunset View Cemetery in Moulton, Iowa, at 11 a.m. Friday, with full military honors provided by the Iowa National Guard. The memorial service is open the public.

Flags will be at half-staff on the State Capitol Building and on flag displays in the Capitol Complex, and upon all public buildings, grounds, and facilities throughout the state. Individuals, businesses, schools, municipalities, counties and other government subdivisions are encouraged to fly the flag at half-staff for the same length of time as a sign of respect.

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