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Charles "Buddy" Feucht
1943 Army Plane Wreckage
The B-24 Liberator Bombardier.
RTHS Members Don and Mary Alice Foster
By Barbara Carmen
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
April 1st, 2006
Mary Alice Foster's wait of 62 years is finally over. Her older brother Buddy will come home later this month to a grave near the parents, brother and a sister who died never knowing what happened to the Reynoldsburg farm boy.
Charles "Buddy" Feucht was just a month shy of his 25th birthday when, during a World War II mission, the B-24 Liberator bombardier and eight crewmates were lost on a stormy night in 1943.
"He was declared dead in 1946," Foster said. "I would wonder, what if he's like some Robinson Crusoe," alive on a desert island. "You sort of don't go there. But we never ceased believing that we were going to bring that dear boy home."
Decades of uncertainty ended Thursday.
Johnny Johnson, a specialist with the Army's Casualty and Mortuary Affairs operations center in Alexandria, Va., phoned Foster and her husband, H. Don Foster, in Reynoldsburg. They'd identified Feucht's bones.
A hunter had stumbled on rusted plane wreckage in a Papua New Guinea jungle in 2002. He'd collected a human bone and a handful of metal ID tags, which he then turned over to the U.S. Embassy there.
A U .S. search crew traveled to the site in 2003 and recovered more bones, teeth and ID bracelets. Mrs. Foster's daughter, Dawn Lee, a teacher in Maine, found news of the World War II plane discovery on the Internet. The family had a strong feeling they'd found Buddy.
Later, Foster and her only surviving sibling, Fern Lord of Suffolk, Va., submitted blood samples for DNA comparison with the recovered bones. If the identification was uncertain, Army officials told the family that remains would be buried in a single casket in Arlington Cemetery. "No," Mrs. Foster replied, "I want to bring him home. God has let us live this long to bring my brother home.
My sister and I are both in our 80s." The sisters see no coincidence in the timing of their brother's return. "It's Easter, we always think of miracles at Easter," Mrs. Foster said. "My brother's pilot had told his crew that they were the very finest. I told (daughter) Dawn that they all reached heaven's gate at the same time. "And God said to them, 'You are indeed the finest.'
"Her brother loved purple-dyed Easter eggs, so Mrs. Foster intends to decorate her brother's grave with the eggs. A government representative is to arrive in Reynoldsburg next Friday to help make memorial arrangements at Reynoldsburg United Methodist Church. She expects her brother's remains to be flown home with full military honors sometime after April 21.
It will take a few weeks to gather the younger generation, including the Fosters' other three children, Fred Foster of Columbus, Christina Davis of Canal Winchester and Stephen Foster of Colorado. Mrs. Foster remembers her mother searching faces shown in Japanese prisoner-of-war film reels, hoping to spot her son. She believes that her mother eventually knew the truth.
"When my mother was dying, she kept looking up and saying, 'Oh, hello Buddy," Mrs. Foster said. The family intends to set up a college scholarship fund at Reynoldsburg High School in honor of their brother.