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1st Lt. James A. Henderson
Associated Press October 15, 2003

GARY, Ind. -- The sister of a co-pilot killed in a plane crash during World War II saluted as a bugler played "Taps" over her brother's remains, which were found nearly 60 years after his death.

" It was beautiful," 79-year-old Delores Taylor said after Monday's funeral for her brother, 1st Lt. James A. Henderson of the U.S. Army Air Forces.

Henderson was killed in July 1944 when the B-25 bomber on which he was co-pilot crashed into a mountain in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. The plane was carrying wounded soldiers to a medical facility.

Their remains were found in the late 1990s, tangled in thick brush on a steep mountainside in the rusted hulk of the plane, by a Philadelphia man seeking the site of the crash that killed his uncle.

The military matched DNA from the remains with a sample from Taylor to confirm Henderson's identity.

Henderson was buried Monday between his parents, who died without ever knowing what had happened to their son, who was listed as missing in action for decades.

" His parents just grieved and grieved over him. They never knew what happened to him," said Emily Tabor, a family friend.

Henderson, who lived with his parents above their beauty salon in Gary, volunteered for the military on Dec. 8, 1941, the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. He left behind a new bride, who since has remarried.

" He was just a good, clean-cut guy," said James Bennel, who attended Sunday school with Henderson. "He always wanted to fly. He was a fine man."

Henderson piloted more than 50 bombing runs in the South Pacific, earning an Air Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Purple Heart and a posthumous Presidential Citation.

U.S. Army Chaplain Alfred Johnson called Henderson "a great soldier who died for all of us. He volunteered to put himself in harm's way. He died to preserve our freedom," Johnson said.

Other remains, including some of Henderson's, are to be buried next Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia beneath a monument to their lost flight.

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