TIPTON: The remains of a fighter pilot from central Indiana whose aircraft disappeared more than 72 years ago have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
The remains of Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Robert McIntosh of Elwood have been identified after the wreckage of his fighter plane was discovered in Santa Cristina, Italy, in 2013, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said Friday. The government used DNA analysis to positively identify him, linking him to his sisters.
The 21-year-old McIntosh was returning with his squadron from a strafing mission against an enemy airfield in Piacenza, Italy, on May 12, 1944, when his single-seat P-38 Lightning aircraft went missing.
Jeannine Baker, McIntosh's sister, was in high school when she got a telegram around Christmas in 1944 saying he was missing in action. She said their father went to Italy to search for him, but the search yielded no results.
"You just had to learn to accept it because you knew nothing. And you had to live with that," Baker told WTTV-TV. "It's just wonderful to finally get to know that is what happened to him."
The government declared McIntosh dead in November 1945. "He was a special kind of guy. He loved life," Baker said, "He always wanted to fly."
In 2013, private citizens and then a volunteer group in Italy that excavates World War II sites found the plane's wreckage and McIntosh's remains.
Young-Nichols Funeral Home said the remains are expected to return to Tipton about 5:30 PM Tuesday. Police and the Indiana Patriot Guard Riders motorcycle group will escort them to Tipton after they arrive at Indianapolis International Airport.
A public funeral will be held at 2 PM yesterday, August 13, in the Tipton High School auditorium.