Saturday, April 20th, 2024

80 Years Later World War II Veteran 1LT Alfred Pezzella Laid To Rest

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A Hero’s Welcome Home for U.S. Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Alfred W. Pezzella, of Newton, Massachusetts, killed during World War II.

October 20, 2023 – Newton, MA by Maia Kennedy | 1LT Alfred Pezzella grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, then volunteered and served with the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) during World War II. He was trained as a bombardier on the B24 Liberator.  He worked in a small section of the plane called the nose turret, responsible for aiming and releasing bombs during missions. On August 1, 1943, during Operation Tidal Wave, his and other U.S. planes were hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire and crashed.

His remains along with many others that couldn’t be identified, were buried as Unknowns in the Hero Section of the Civilian and Military Cemetery in Romania, then transferred to Belgium following the war.

In 2017, with the advancement of medical technology, the Armed Forces were able to start identifying the Unknown but-never-forgotten soldiers. Through the use of anthropological analysis, as well as mitochondrial DNA analysis, scientists were able to start making identifications.

Alfred’s family and descendants went on for decades not knowing what had happened to him.  Children grew up hearing stories about this great man, never thinking that they’d get a final conclusion to the story. That day finally came in 2019 when the government contacted Vinny Papia, Alfred’s great nephew.

After a soldier is identified, Repatriation is arranged, returning the body to their country.  Next, the Dignified Transfer begins, a solemn process to honor those that have given their lives in the service of our country. The remains of the fallen service member are put in a flag-draped casket and carried by Honor Guard to and from the aircraft and then to an awaiting vehicle in preparation for the funeral and their final resting place.

On October 20, 2023, 1LT Alfred Pezzella finally came home, accompanied by his great-great nephew, a Captain in the Air Force. He was welcomed by a large group of family members along with hundreds of first responders and others at Logan Airport.

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Maia Kennedy is an event photographer and recognized regionally for her military and first responder photography.  She has been an ambassador of Military Friends Foundation for 10 years and resides Massachusetts. 

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