ARANSAS PASS — Rodney Ives was only 4 when his father disappeared during World War II, but that did not dampen his drive to bring the missing airman home for burial more than 60 years later.
U.S. Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Dudley Ives was buried last week among relatives and with full military honors in Aransas Pass on the Gulf Coast.
"It took quite a long time, but it's a difficult process," said Rodney Ives, 68. "Obviously, I'm very happy."
The elder Ives went missing in April 1944, when the B-24 fighter plane he was co-piloting crashed in Papua New Guinea during a mission to destroy Japanese bases.
Ives served with the 403rd Bombardment Squadron, 43rd Bombardment Group.
Rodney Ives said he contacted the military in 2002 after hearing a report about the discovery of U.S. plane wreckage in Papua New Guinea.
Remains from the crash site were transported to the military's Central Identification Laboratory, where specialists used mitochondrial DNA to help identify the lost service members.
Because mitochondrial DNA is passed down maternally, Rodney Ives helped find a female relative on his father's maternal side in 2003 to get a DNA sample.
Then the Ives family waited as the military worked on identifying the remains of the 10 men who were found together, he said.
Rodney Ives got the call in December, which was followed by a visit from military officials who briefed him on the identification. Army Air Forces veteran Stephen Parker of Seguin said he flew alongside Ives on the day of the 1944 bombing raid, which is remembered for its bad weather.
Parker served with the 19th Bombardment Squadron, 22nd Bombardment Group.
"There were a lot of planes in the air that day," the 85-year-old said at the service Monday. "We had just dropped our bombs; two planes flew into a mountain."
George Phillips, a 79-year-old cousin of the elder Ives, said the family was proud when he volunteered for the military.
"I remember when he went missing," Phillips said. "We all wondered what happened."