A South Bend soldier missing in action since WWII has finally been identified, solving a 67-year mystery. This week, his family will be heading to Arlington Cemetery to say their final goodbyes.
It's a mystery Nancy Plennert and her sister have grown up with: What happened to their uncle Sergeant John Harringer Jr.?
Now, 67 years after his plane was shot down over Germany, they have been given an answer – the result of an eight-year investigation by the Department of Defense.
"We were just taken aback that this effort was going on and I thought, wow, this is amazing," said Harringer's aunt, Nancy Plennert.
It was April 29, 1944. Sergeant Harringer and nine other army airmen were sent on a bombing mission over Germany. Their B-24 plane was shot down and Harringer's body was never recovered.
In 2003, the crash site was discovered. Two years later, human remains, military equipment and Harringer's dog tags were found.
Plennert learned about the process about seven years ago, when her son Christopher started researching the mystery online out of curiosity. He found family members of the other crew members and, through the research, he found out the crash site had been discovered.
Harringer was the oldest of four children and the only boy in the family. Today, none of his immediate family is alive. His three sisters, father and mother have all passed away.
"That's the tough part, that those who knew him are no longer here to experience this," Nancy Plennert said.
Even though those who knew Harringer are all gone, for Nancy and her family, it's closure they thought they would never have, but closure she wishes she could share with those who loved her uncle.
"I think they would find some closure in this process and I think they would be happy to be there, it's an honor," Plennert said.
The memorial service at Arlington is scheduled for Wednesday.
Despite the news, there is still some mystery shrouding the crash. Only Harringer's dog tags were found at the site, not his remains. According to a military report, after the crash, German troops removed three bodies and buried them in a cemetery near Hanover, Germany.
Those bodies were recovered in 1946 by US troops, and re-buried in Belgium. Two of them were identified, but the identity of the third one was never confirmed. It's believed, through the use of dental records, the third body is that of Sergeant Harringer, and it is still buried in Belgium.