BEATRICE, Neb. – The remains of a second world War pilot, were finally buried with full military honors in his home state of Nebraska after 73 years on foreign soil.
Flight Officer Richard Lane died in combat in 1944. His family believed that his remains were buried in a cemetery in the southeast Nebraska city of Filley, and they visited his grave on Memorial Day for seven decades. But it remains buried under Lane’s gravestone were recently discovered to be that of another man.
The Army had accidentally hit the wrong remains to Nebraska. Lane had been buried in a military cemetery in Belgium, in a grave marked “Unknown.”
Lane ‘s family learned of the error to a family in Idaho discovered the two soldiers’ remains were off.
“A small part of the get of a soldier or the remains of the pilot back where they belong — it gives me chills,” said Patrick Biddy, a veteran and historian of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, who has helped in the return Lane’s remains home to Nebraska.
The remains buried in Lane’s grave is now being examined in a laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha. Biddy is pending of the confirmation of the body’s identity, but he believes that it is the remains of Pfc. Fred Ashley, a 2nd Cavalry reconnaissance scout from Idaho.
Lane and Ashley had no connection when they were alive. But after the end of the war, their unidentified remains were taken to Nuremberg, Germany, for the re-burial on the same day. Their remains were buried as unidentified veterans, and were moved several times in Europe. Some were eventually mistakenly identified as Lane and sent to Nebraska.
“It was pretty easy to put together, as soon as we got the documents,” Biddy said. “Someone must have grabbed the wrong cart. We will probably never know (how) has happened.”
The Lane family held a funeral Thursday in Beatrice, almost 70 years after the first. Lane’s sister, his cousin and a large group of American Legion Riders welcome his body to its final resting place.
“This is not a crying time,” said Lane’s cousin, Wendell Lane. “This is a time for joy.”