Airman’s Remains Returned

At long last, on Saturday, August 15th, 2009, funeral services will be held for Staff Sergeant James Bernard “Dinty” Moore, who was killed in action during World War II at the age of 21. After a wait of over six decades, his remains are finally being returned to his hometown of Woburn for burial with his family. The story of the process, compiled by Woburn writer Marie Coady with the assistance of stories written in a memorial book of World War II veterans, is posted below.

Born in Winchester on December 31st, 1921, he grew up on Bryant Street in the South End of Woburn and attended Woburn public schools. Much like his father, he was a bright student who was good with math and numbers. According to his brother John, one of his two remaining siblings, he was a quiet, very sincere, studious young man who was a good friend to everyone who knew him. James was a wonderful brother and son.
He enlisted in the Army Air Corps on September 3rd, 1942. Well-liked by his buddies, they named him “Dinty.” He was known for his friendliness and willingness to aid the other fellow.

His record as a Tail Gunner on a B-24 was outstanding and he participated in 120 missions. It was on one of these missions over New Guinea where he met his death, along with his fellow crew members. He was declared missing in action on November 20th, 1943. It was more than sixty years later that his remains were recovered by an investigative team from the Department of the Army, and several more years before DNA helped to identify the remains. Staff Sergeant Moore was awarded a Purple Heart and Air Medal, together with the Citation of Honor, presented to his mother in the years after his death.

A funeral mass will be celebrated in St. Charles Church, 280 Main Street, Woburn, on Saturday, August 15th, 2009 at 10 a.m. Burial with full military honors will follow in Calvary Cemetery, Woburn. Arrangements are by the Lynch-Cantillon Funeral Home, 263 Main Street, Woburn.

Staff Sergeant James B. Moore Is Finally Coming Home, Part One
By Marie Coady

Staff Sergeant James B. “Dinty” Moore, US Air Force, WWII, MIA for 66 years, is finally coming home. Staff Sergeant Moore disappeared over the jungles of New Guinea on November 20, 1943, while on a “sea-search mission” out of Jackson Airfield and never returned. But due to the indefatigable work of his niece Lynne Valante and her now deceased father, David C. Moore, he will be coming home at last.

In 2003, the Moore family was notified that Dinty’s plane and some remains belonging to the crew had been discovered in a remote section of the jungle. After collecting DNA from his sister, Mary Ellen Cressey, and his brother, John Moore, they were able to match it with the skeletal remains found aboard what was left of the B-24D bomber, identified as the plane Dinty was aboard when it went missing in 1943.

Finally, after 66 years of waiting, Staff Sergeant James B. “Dinty” Moore will be coming home on Wednesday, August 12, 2009, to be buried alongside his family in Calvary Cemetery.
According to the Joint POW / MIA Accounting Command at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii, the remains found in a B-24D bomber, as recently as October 2004, have finally been matched to the DNA of all eleven crew members who disappeared over the jungles of New Guinea on November 20, 1943. And one of those crew members was one of Woburn’s own, Staff Sergeant James B. Moore.

Staff Sergeant Moore, also known to his crewmates as “Dinty”, disappeared on November 20, 1943 while flying his 120th mission as Aerial Gunner over New Guinea with the 64th Bomber Squadron, 43rd Bomber Group during World War II. And for more than 60 years no word of his fate had ever been passed on to the family beyond the fact that he was officially listed as MIA on November 20, 1944. But this didn’t deter his brother, David Moore, also a World War II veteran, and his niece Lynne (Moore) Valante, from taking up the search at a time when everyone else had given up.

James Bernard Moore was one of 7 brothers and 3 sisters, all of whom called him Bernie. Sad to say only two of those siblings will be there to welcome Bernie home. His sister Mary Ellen Cressey, now living in Wakefield, NH, was the closest in age to Bernie and remembers well the pleasure she took in getting him into trouble. Seems there was a rule that when you came to the dinner table you were to mind your manners, but Mary Ellen always managed to get Bernie giggling to the point where he would get yelled at for misbehaving.

His brother John Moore is also a veteran of World War II, serving with the US Marines for the duration. For John, getting that phone call from the Army was a quite a shock but, even at the age of 84, he was only too happy to offer up his DNA to be matched against the remains that were found so that Bernie could finally come home. As he stated in the Meridian, Conn, Record-Journal in November of 2004 “A lot of memories came back. I never expected a phone call about it. It was completely closed in my mind.” Now here it is 5 years later and Bernie, or Dinty as his mates called him, is coming home thanks to the efforts of his brother, David Moore and David’s daughter, Lynne Valante, who also enlisted the aid of other family members.

The father and daughter team began their search in 1995 shortly after the United Veterans Council here in Woburn officially dedicated the corner of Conn and Bryant Street to Staff Sergeant Moore with a sign that reads: “In memory of James B. Moore”. That was on May 28, 1995, but for years that search led nowhere.

As late as 2003, the year that David Moore passed away, no clues had turned up, and it appeared that no one seemed to know anything about James “Dinty” Moore.One problem was that they had the date he went missing wrong by a whole year. That error was corrected when Dinty’s sister came across a journal kept by James’ mother. That journal read: “Enlisted at 19, 1942. Left from Boston September 8, 1942. Missing since November 20, 1943. Mother got Air Medal June 2, 1944, Bedford Air Force Base Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. Mother got Purple Heart February, 1945.”

When I interviewed David Moore the year before he died he told me that his most vivid memory is of that day was when the telegram telling of his brother’s fate arrived. It was David who answered the door and, as an impressionable 17 year old, it made a lasting imprint on him. Especially when he heard his mother’s sad wail as she opened the envelope and read that her son was officially missing and b elieved dead. It was in fact the event that propelled him to enlist in the US Navy and serve along with his 6 other brothers during World War II.

“In February of 2004, almost a year to the day my father died,” Lynne explained, “I got a message from someone who had been doing research on the same Web page and he had come across an article about a plane that had a list of the crew. He basically took it from there and did all the leg work but that was the first time my Uncle Bernie’s name came up.”

Among names of the crew listed in his e-mail was: “Moore, James B., Staff Sergeant”. That was the beginning of a journey that Lynne Valante never thought she’d be taking, especially without her dad by her side. But as she readily admits she continues to feel his presence in each step she takes toward solving the Moore family mystery.

Then she got another e-mail from a family in Florida doing research and, because his mother’s brother was also a member of this crew, he had pictures of her uncle. This man in Florida had done a huge amount of research because his mom was still alive and he wanted some closure for her. Unbelievably the woman’s son turned out to be “Dinty” Moore’s best friend. They were both tail gunners and went down together.

That was only the beginning of the drama that was to unfold. Not only did the picture make Uncle Bernie come alive, best of all, the picture finally connected him with a crew and even provided the registration number of the plane. But the most startling thing was that Lynne also learned that not only didn’t the plane go down in the ocean as her dad always believed, what was left of the plane was actually found in 1984 in the mountains of New Guinea.

Now the waiting game was almost over and the real work of finding a lost relative was to become a reality. That also meant that Lynne Valante had her work cut out for her, but she was more than willing to take on the task. She also believed her father and her Uncle Bernie were guiding her from above.

Staff Sergeant James B. Moore Is Finally Coming Home, Part Two
By Marie Coady   

A report compiled by the Join POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) on October 5, 2007 detailing the search stated that in spite of a report filed in 1949 stating that the remains of the 11 crew members of the B-24D bomber that went down over the jungles of New Guinea on November 20, 1943, were “non-recoverable”, the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory Recovery Team in Hawaii never gave up. They went back in 1984 and then again in 1989 when they were informed that DNA from the crash site had been collected by some local natives.

According to Staff Sergeant Moore’s niece, Lynne Valante, who took an active role in keeping the search alive, “It seems there were some skeletal remains but since the plane was found in a highly unstable part of the jungles of New Guinea they were not able to retrieve everything. But knowing that alone offered some closure because at the time the family believed Uncle Bernie’s plane might be underwater and never found.”

That official report, copies of which were requested by Lynne’s Uncle John from the Department of the Army Human Resources Command in Alexandria, VA, stated that “On 22 March 2004, ITI (Investigative Team One) began the initial site assessment of MACP 1771 crash site. The team had to clear extra space on the initial visit to make room for an AS350 helicopter and further clearance to ensure space for a 212 helicopter.”

The area was described in detail and mentioned that the crash site was located on a small promontory just west of a small garden area implemented by the local Engati village. The promontory mentioned was in a “gully complex containing a major landslide measuring 150-200 meters long” and that the “wreckage is distributed throughout the landslip with loose fragments of aircraft skin and aluminum, visible”. The conclusion from the site assessment that the “region would b e extremely dangerous since it would destabilize the existing landslide deposits and potentially weaken underlying bedrock”.

Also, in spite of a conclusion on the part of the recovery anthropologist that there are most likely human remains to be found at the site the following opinion was offered. “Given the extensive logistic and safety difficulties inherent in this site full-scale area excavation is a non-viable option”, implementing present resources and techniques available. So it was decided to go with the samples they had been given by the natives of the area and hope that future technology will make it possible to return to completely excavate the site.

Lynne explains, “All this was coming in just two days and, after more than 60 years of wondering, I was the conduit for all the information being passed along. It kind of fell on me and it was overwhelming because for 9 years we kept running into stone walls. So I called my brother Jimmy (James Bernard Moore) and he couldn’t believe it was happening. From what I understand they took the remains to the Air Force Base in Hawaii and since my brother had served in Hawaii he got on the phone and started calling everyone he knew. Then one day my neighbor came to the door and told me she had just gotten a call from an Army Office and they were looking for me. Somehow they had tracked me to my street but they were off by one house and got hold of my neighbor and gave her the number to call.

“I called and they said they wanted to take blood and saliva samples from family members to check the DNA. This is what my father wanted. I know it sounds crazy but all of last year I’ve been talking to him a great deal. I know now he’s with his brother and they are watching this together. It’s kind of comforting for us to believe that. I knew if my father were alive he would have been all over this, but I wasn’t sure how his two remaining siblings would feel although I felt I owed it to them to tell them. I struggled with it for a time and then I called them and told them the story. I wasn’t sure how my Aunt Mary Ellen (Cressey) and Uncles John and Bobby would receive it and I didn’t want to give them false hopes. In the end I decided that all I could do was tell them what I know and let them decide.

“The first one I called was my Uncle John in CT and he responded the way I hoped he would. He was so open to it, happy, shocked, and ready to help. So I talked to Uncle Bobby in Orange MA and my Aunt Mary Ellen and they were as enthusiastic. It’s been so emotional and it gives me the shivers. I though it might be devastating and kept reassuring my aunt and uncles that this may be as far as we go. But it gave all of them some closure to know the plane didn’t go in the water. So this past November my uncle and aunt gave blood for DNA samples and recently we we re all notified that those samples were a definite match the Uncle Bernie (Staff Sergeant James B. “Dinty” Moore).”

That prompted me to notify Mayor McLaughlin’s office as well as Ralph Garvey at the Veterans’ Services office. From there Mayor McLaughlin’s assistant, Charles T. Culhane, took over and arranged a meeting with Staff Sergeant James B. Moore’s family, Lynne Valante, her brother James Bernard Moore and their sister Beth Moore at City Hall. At that meeting, with two framed pictures of their Uncle Bernie placed in the middle of the conference room table, the family generously shared the details of Uncle Bernie’s homecoming.

From there Mayoral Asst. Culhane took over and in spite of a change in the flight scheduled to bring “Dinty” home, he arranged for an honor guard, escorts and participation by the United Veterans Council, police. So now, after being MIA for 66 years, Staff Sergeant James B. “Dinty” Moore will be coming home at last on Wednesday, August 12, 2009 and should arrive in Woburn around noontime.

In light of his impending homecoming, Lynne explained, “We only wish our father, David Moore, was here to see this honor for his brother. I think he would have loved knowing his family is now together. He used to tell us that when his brother first went missing, my grandmother would leave a lit candle for him and now that candle can be blown out, and she can finally rest.”

In Memory of “Dinty” & His Crewmates
By Marie Coady 

It all began in 1996 with the below post on the website created by Lynne Moore Valante:

“I am looking for anyone who may have known my uncle Staff Sergeant James B. Moore. He was also known to friends as “Dinty”. He was with the 64th Bomber Squadron, 43rd Bomber Group Heavy. He enlisted from Massachusetts and was recorded as dying on November 21, 1944 . He is listed MIA or Buried at Sea. My family has no specific information on what happened to him and would like to know if any of his crewmates can help us. May God Bless you all.”

Now here it was thirteen years later and we were all standing on the steps of Woburn City Hall with our hands over our hearts welcoming Staff Sergeant James B. “Dinty” Moore home, and it was an impressive site. He was escorted into the City by a full military escort and honor guard, as well as an impressive array of State and Local Police, lights flashing, and at full attention.

Then along came the hearse with Uncle Bernie’s (as his nieces and nephews call him) remains reverently draped with an American flag and followed by two limousines belonging to Lynch-Cantillon Funeral Home that were filled to overflowing with family. And I could almost see Staff Sergeant Moore standing there alongside us with a big smile on his face.

As the cortege made its way down Main Street it encountered a most impressive site. There along Main were two Woburn Fire Department ladder trucks with their ladders extended skyward and a huge American flag draped between them. That display elegantly marked Staff Sergeant James B. Moore’s return to his hometown as well as showing our appreciation for his service to our country.

Among those escorting Staff Sergeant Moore home was a group of motorcyclists known as the Patriot Guard Riders and they stood out among the others because of their motivation in being there. As stated in their mission statement: “The Patriot Guard Riders is a diverse amalgamation of riders from across the nation. We have one thing in common besides motorcycles. We have an unwavering respect for those who risk their very lives for America ’s freedom and security. If you share this respect, please join us. . . .Our main mission is to attend the funeral services of fallen American heroes as invited guests of the family. “  And that was evident in the respect they showed toward the family when they entered the funeral home to pay their respects. It was also evident in the many posts their members from all over the country made to their website.

From Loganville , Georgia , came this response: “My sincere condolences to the Family and Friends of James Bernard “Dinty” Moore, US Army Air Corp, WWII Veteran. I pray God will give you comfort in your time of sorrow. I am grateful for James Bernard “Dinty” Moore ‘s, service to our Great Nation and greatly appreciate Him for my freedom. James Bernard “Dinty” Moore , you are a true American Hero and will not be forgotten. Stand down Soldier, Your mission is complete. Job Well Done. May our Heavenly Father welcome You home to rest.”

From Webster, Fl. Patriot Guard Ride Captain and Vietnam Veteran Bill Snelson wrote: “My Sincere Condolences go out to Family and Friends of US Army Air Corp, WWII Veteran, James Bernard “Dinty” Moore, Though you will be missed you will not be forgotten, Thank you for your Service. Rest in Peace and God be with you. “You Will Forever Be Remembered”

From Virginia Beach, VA, Ride Captain for the Patriot Guard, Robert K. Reynolds wrote: “During these days of many trials and tribulations that our land of the free are facing, let us remember to hold our heads up high in remembrance for those who gave their life for our freedom and those that are still in harms way for this cause. Pray for the brokenhearted and proclaim victory for those who are held captive. . . .”

And finally from someone closer to home: “To the family of James “Dinty” Moore, It has been along journey indeed, but your loved one and WWII hero is finally coming home to be laid to rest. My deepest appreciation for his service to our country. Howard Shrut, MA State Captain, Patriot Guard Riders.”

But as “Dinty” Moore revels in on the glory that is offered in his name, I know that there is one thing he would want more than anything, and that is to make sure the men he went down with on that B-24D bomber that day are remembered also. So in their honor, I will post their names here today so that S/Sgt Moor’s family and friends never forget Uncle Bernie’s fellow crewmates that went down with him that day in November of 1943, all members of the USAAF, 5th AF, 43rd Bomber Group, 64th Bomber Squadron”

Name Rank Service # Position
HEUSS, Richard T. IstLt O-736519 Pilot
MILLER, Robert A 2dLt O-740102 Co-Pilot
FRENCH, Edward R. 2dLt O-734883 Bombardier
STRECKENBACH, Robert R., Jr 2dLt O-797421 Navigator
BODE, Charles A. TSgt 13072686 Aerial Engineer
OLIVER,LucianI.,Jr TSgt 14070201 Radar Operator
KIRKPATRICK, Ivan O. SSgt 39234213 Assistant Aerial Engineer
MUSGRAVE, William K SSgt 36368255 Assistant Radio Operator
MORAN, James T. SSgt 32432306 Aerial Gunner
MOORE, James B. SSgt 11088506 Aerial Gunner
SURABIAN, Roy [NMI] SSgt 11052826 Radio Operator