Georgia town holds belated funeral for Army Air Corps lieutenant lost in WWII crash

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Georgia town holds belated funeral for Army Air Corps lieutenant lost in WWII crash

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Chad Rhym
Lieutenant Robert Eugene Oxford, age 24, of Concord, Ga. died Jan. 25, 1944, when his U.S. Army plane crashed during a cargo flight over the Himalayan Mountains. His remains were returned to the United States for identification last year. His remains returned home Thursday, June 8, 2017. Members of the military carry Oxford's casket into the hearse at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.  The remains of seven other crew members have not been found. Chad Rhym/ chad.rhym@ajc.com

Pike County is holding a long-delayed funeral Sunday for 1st Lt. Robert Eugene Oxford, more than 70 years after his crew disappeared during a 1944 supply flight from China to India during the height of World War II.

Oxford, who went by the name Eugene or Gene and died at age 24, did not have a burial before now. His initial resting place was an unknown crash site in the Himalayan Mountains, according to multiple news stories, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Organizers are inviting the public to line the 8-mile funeral route Sunday afternoon with flags and yellow ribbons. 

Oxford’s parents, Charles and Bessie Oxford, are no longer living, but they placed a memorial marker and reserved a burial plot at tiny Magnolia Cemetery in Concord, Ga.  He will be buried there Sunday, following a 2 p.m. funeral at the Pike County School Auditorium, 7362 US Highway 19S, in Zebulon.

Well-wishers are invited to line the roadside from Highway 19 in Zebulon and along Georgia Highway 18 westward from  the Courthouse in Zebulon to the center of Concord, according to the local newspaper, the Pike County Times, which has written for years about the search for Oxford’s remains.

The site of the funeral and burial are about 40 miles south of Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International Airport between Griffin and Macon.

1st Lieutenant Robert Eugene Oxford of Concord, Ga., served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. He was 24 when he was lost and presumed dead in  a 1944 military plane crash over India. (HANDOUT PHOTO) The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Oxford’s remains were found in the wreckage of his crew’s B-24J Liberator known by its nickname, “Hot as Hell,” in India's Himalayas. Its serial number was 42-73308.

The site of the Jan. 25, 1944 crash was found near Damrah in Arunchal Pradesh State by Clayton Kuhles of MIA Recoveries, which works to find crash sites in the Himalayas, according to the AJC. It. was first discovered in 2006, but exploration of the site and the discovery of the remains came much later, in 2015, finally resulting in India’s permission to return them to the United States for identification in 2016. 

The remains of seven other crew members have not been found. The missing crew members will also be remembered during the funeral. 

The expedition to the mountains of India only found remains for First Lt. Oxford - so they're honoring the entire crew at the Zebulon funeral home. (Photo and reporting by Evan Watson / WGXA News Fox 24 and ABC 16, Macon) Evan Watson / WGXA

Visitation for Oxford was held Friday and Saturday at Moody-Daniel Funeral Home in Zebulon. All eight crew members from the crashed B-24J mission were included with names and photographs of each. Oxford was reported to have volunteered for the flight that crashed. He was listed as the Bombardier on the crew roster.


Concord, Ga #1stltroberteugeneoxford Eugene Oxford. Flag over Ga 18 on Pike County ladder truck

Posted by Brian P. O'Shea on Sunday, June 11, 2017

Learn more

Read the full story of Robert Eugene Oxford’s return to Georgia by reporter Joshua Sharpe on MyAJC.com

Family-placed obituary on AJC.com includes details on Eugene Oxford’s military training, his family and his last civilian job in Georgia, as well as details on the funeral.

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