By Associated Press - Wednesday, May 27, 2015

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - More than 70 years have passed since the family of a 23-year-old Nebraska fighter pilot in World War II learned that he had been killed.

U.S. Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Alvin Beethe was flying a P-38 Lightning during a missing on Nov. 26, 1944, when it crashed near Morschenich, Germany. Federal officials learned in 2008 that the crash site had been found and in June 2013, the site was excavated and human remains and aircraft wreckage were recovered.

The Pentagon last week announced that Beethe’s remains were discovered, with confirmation including two forms of DNA analysis. He will be buried next month with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery outside the nation’s capital, the Omaha World-Herald ( ) reported.

“He had a wonderful personality, very friendly,” recalled Eilene Beethe Thiesfeld of Lincoln, a cousin who was close to Beethe growing up. “He was very well liked.”

Beethe was the oldest of four children in his family and grew up on a farm near Elk Creek. He graduated from Elk Creek High School in 1938 and attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for a time, but later quit to work at a Boeing production plant in Seattle.

He then transferred to the Martin Bomber Plant at Offutt Air Force Base and joined the Army Air Corps in March 1942. Pilot training took him to several bases before he ultimately was sent to England in August 1944.

His family held a memorial service for him in January 1946. Thiesfeld learned of the match in remains to Beethe last December, but said sadly, none of his three younger siblings lived to hear the news.

Still, she’s overjoyed to hear that his remains have been recovered. She said a group of family members will attend the ceremony at Arlington.

“To me,” she said, “it’s just nothing but a miracle.”


Information from: Omaha World-Herald,

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