Soldier’s remains headed home

Published 1:20 am Tuesday, April 2, 2019

WWII pilot’s plane was shot down in France in 1943

Almost seventy-six years after his plane went down behind enemy lines in France, 2nd Lt. Walter B. Stone’s remains are coming home to Pleasant Home.

Lt. Stone’s nephew and namesake, Walter “Buster” Stone, said family members will meet with representatives of the military at Foreman’s Funeral Home tomorrow to plan a full military funeral.

According to the AirForceTimes, in October 1943, 2nd Lt. Stone was serving as a pilot in the 350th Fighter Squadron, 353rd Fighter Group, VIII U.S. Fighter Command. He was killed Oct. 22 when his P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft crashed behind enemy lines in northern France during a bomber escort mission. Search and recovery operations were not possible.

Stone’s name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Ardennes American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Neupré, Belgium, along with others missing from WWII. Because he is now accounted for, a rosette will be placed next to his name.

And in Pleasant Home, his mother already has a marker for him.

“My grandmother went to her grave worrying about wanting to get his remains back,” Buster Stone said. “This has always been a big thing to our family.

“Down at the cemetery, there is a memorial headstone in memory of Walter B. Stone, and the date he was reported missing,” Stone said. “It says he was shot down over France.”

Lt. Stone was the son of James W. Stone and Lilla Stone.

About six months ago, the military contacted Buster Stone’s cousin in Pensacola about getting a DNA sample. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency confirmed Lt. Stone’s identity on Feb. 20, 2019.

The military initially has said it will do a funeral in about a month to give the family time to work out travel schedules.

“Every relative has said we didn’t have to put it off. They’ll be there.” Stone said. “We’ll see what their normal procedure is.”