Page 21 - MFM Nov 2014
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Search attempts for the downed crew began                                                           John Thompson, Grand Historian
immediately and continued after the war. The Army
Graves Registration Service recovered the remains of
three of the missing Airmen. In 1949, however, AGRS
concluded the remaining nine crew members--including
Bernier--were unrecoverable.

  Wreckage bearing the tail number of Bernier’s aircraft         The honor guard carried Bernier’s American flag-
was located in 2001 by a team of the U.S. Central              draped casket from the hearse to his final resting
Identification Laboratory. Human and non-biological            place. The pallbearers held the flag taut throughout the
evidence was excavated from the site between 2008 and          service.
2011 by teams from Joint Prisoner of War/Missing In
Action Accounting Command (JPAC). Bernier’s remains
were positively identified earlier this year by scientists
from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification
Laboratory using circumstantial evidence and forensic
identification tools including mitochondrial DNA that
matched Bernier’s cousins.

  The Army contacted Sandi Jones, Bernier’s niece in
2011 and asked her if she was willing to accept her
uncle’s remains once they were positively identified, she
said. It would be an honor, she told them.

Darryl Flowers, Sun Times                                                                                                                  Darryl Flowers, Sun Times

“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I was so amazed and so       Chaplain (Col.) Kenneth DuVall,                                           Darryl Flowers, Sun Times
happy. ‘Oh my gosh, we’re bringing him home!’”                 the Montana National Guard’s state
Bernier was eligible for interment at Arlington National       chaplain, officiated the ceremony and
Cemetery, Jones said. That didn’t feel right to her, and       led the gathering of approximately
Jones opted to make local arrangements instead.                100 people in comforting words and
“He was a Montana boy and he had never gone to Washington,     prayer.
D.C., as far as I know,” she said. “He never got to come home
so it just seemed like the best thing was to take him home.”

  It was fitting that Lt. Bernier was laid to rest on            The Masonic Funeral Service for Brother William
National POW/MIA Day, and to know he and his                   Bernier was coordinated with Augusta Lodge No. 54
family have found peace. A hearse carrying Bernier’s           Chaplain DuVall and the following Officers of the
remains arrived from Great Falls, Montana escorted by          Grand Lodge AF&AM of Montana: Worshipful Master
Montana’s Patriot Guard Riders.                                - Brian Murphy, Deputy Grand Master; Chaplain -
                                                               Lewis Smith, Senior Grand Warden; Apron - Daniel
  About 50 students from Augusta Public Schools lined          Gardiner, Assistant Grand Secretary; Evergreen - Jack
the road to the cemetery waving American flags.                Levitt - Past Grand Master; Scroll In Memory - Reid
                                                               Gardiner, Grand Secretary.
   A color guard from the American Legion Post #51
in Augusta, joined by other veterans from around the                                                                              Page 21
state, lined the entrance and welcomed the hearse into
the cemetery.
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