In April 1945, with Hitler’s defeat in World War II a near certainty, a young Robert L. Mains climbed into a B-24 Liberator and joined a wave of bombers that flew toward Germany, hoping to hasten the time he could cradle his new baby daughter for just the second time.
Mains, an Army Air Forces 1st lieutenant who has long been dead but not forgotten, will finally come home Wednesday.
Mains, 27, of Rochester, perished when his plane was shot down south of Hamburg a month before Germany’s surrender.
His remains were identified in August by forensic scientists using DNA evidence, 73 years after his death.
They [were] to arrive in a flag-draped coffin just after sunset Wednesday at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma, U.S. military officials said. He will be buried with military honors Saturday at Calverton National Cemetery.
“Since I got the call, it’s been so surreal,” said his daughter, Barbara O’Brien, 73, of Stony Brook, a psychotherapist who was just hours old when her father left for the war. “My mother told me he only got to hold me once before he went off to fight.”
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