FINDLAY, Ohio — A gunner whose plane crashed in the Pacific Ocean during World War II was honored at a funeral 73 years later on Saturday, after his remains were finally identified and returned to his sister in Ohio.
Navy Reserve Aviation Ordinanceman 2nd Class Ora Sharninghouse Jr. was buried with full military honors after a small funeral in Findlay, where his 84-year-old sister, Joan Stough, lives.
"For us, this is our closure: to know that he died that day, but not alone, and now his body is safely deposited at home with us," Jeremy Sharninghouse said of his great-uncle. "We've been blessed with closure, something that not everyone gets."
It was an experience Stough never anticipated having.
She was 11 when her 22-year-old brother went missing in action in 1944. The family never had a funeral in the decades that followed because their mother always hoped Sharninghouse might return, Stough told The (Toledo) Blade.
Now he has been buried next to his parents at Weaver Cemetery in Wood County.
John Hamman, a township sexton who has long mowed along the family plot where a small memorial honored Sharninghouse's memory, said he never imagined he'd ever get to be part of burying the serviceman.
"It's quite an honor to be able to do that," Hamman said.
Also on hand for the memorial service were members of the recovery team that found the downed plane.
The remains of Sharninghouse and a radioman were recovered from their torpedo bomber in 2014 near the Republic of Palau. DNA testing helped identify the sailors' remains.
Stough said she was stunned when the U.S. Navy told her last August her brother's remains were identified and would be returned.
She said Saturday was an emotional day, though more celebratory than sad.