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Published: Thursday, 4/30/2009

2 on WW II plane to be buried near NW Ohio homes


LIMA, Ohio - The military is bringing home the remains of two northwest Ohio men who grew up within 20 miles of each other and died when their plane was shot down over the Pacific Ocean during World War II. Their families are now planning to bury them near their hometowns.

The military used DNA to confirm their identities after divers found their plane in 2004.

"It was a 65-year family mystery as to what really happened," said Nikki Abbott, whose great-uncle Earl Yoh was killed. "Finding him is like solving the mystery."

Mr. Yoh grew up in Scott (north of Van Wert), and Leland Price graduated from high school in Oakwood, about 15 miles northeast of Scott. Both men were staff sergeants on a B-24 Liberator that was shot down in September, 1944, during a bombing mission against Japanese-held islands and airstrips in the South Pacific.

The two had never met until they were assigned to the same bomber, according to a newspaper article written after the plane was shot down.

All 11 crew members died.

Sixty years later, volunteer divers searching for ships and aircraft around the Palau Islands found the bomber in 70 feet of water.

Surviving family members provided DNA samples that allowed the Department of Defense to identify the remains.

Mr. Price is expected to be buried in Defiance. Mr. Yoh will be buried May 9 near Haviland.

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