ANNVILLE, Pa., May 25, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Maj. Gen. Tony Carrelli, Pennsylvania's adjutant general and head of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, participated in a graveside service for repatriated Army Air Force Staff Sgt. Carl M. Shaffer who was killed in 1944 during WWII. Shaffer, who was 22 when he died, was buried in his hometown of Pottstown, Montgomery County.
"It was an honor to participate in the repatriation service of an American hero and to see that his family now has closure after nearly 75 years," said Carrelli. "I have great admiration for those who patrolled the skies more than seven decades ago, at a time when the enemy was tenacious and the survival rate for an aviator was low. We enjoy freedom in America like nowhere else in the world because of men and women like Staff Sgt. Shaffer. The service today shows just how committed our country is to making sure every servicemember who perished in foreign land eventually comes home to rest."
On Jan. 21, 1944, Shaffer was a member of the 38th Bombardment Squadron, 30th Bombardment Group, stationed at Hawkins Field, Betio Island, Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands. During a combat mission, the B-24J bomber aircraft he was on crashed into Tarawa lagoon shortly after takeoff. Shaffer, a radio operator, and the nine other servicemen on the aircraft were killed.
Shaffer's body was not found during the initial recovery attempt. He was recently accounted for and identified after being recovered from a cemetery established by the U.S. on Betio Island during the war.
MEDIA CONTACT: Joseph Butera, 717-861-2178
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs