After 76 years, a fallen Heartland hero returns home - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

After 76 years, a fallen Heartland hero returns home

(Source: Brittany Jacob/ KFVS) (Source: Brittany Jacob/ KFVS)
(Source: Brittany Jacob/KFVS) (Source: Brittany Jacob/KFVS)
(Source: Brittany Jacob/KFVS) (Source: Brittany Jacob/KFVS)
CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) -

Today family and veterans celebrated the life of Lieutenant Maax Curtis Hammer Jr., a U.S. Army Vet killed in an airplane crash in Burma while under executive order of the President.

Illinois Veterans of Foreign Wars like Larry Largent, VFW 1301, paid their respects.

"They are very dear to us – they are our veterans, they are our people," Largent said. "This man was serving when he was killed and the least we could do was show him a little camaraderie a little brotherhood and come out here for his service...I never knew this man. But he is still a brother, he’s a brother because he served like I served my time.”

Lt Max Curtis Hammer served his time with the U.S. Army from 1939 to his death in 1941. 

Under presidential authorization, Lt Hammer accepted a civilian job in Burma. Lt. Hammer was buried as an "unknown" for 67 years in Honolulu Hawaii. 

One of his family members and organizer of the research, Tripp Alyn, explains it from Hammer’s father's perspective.

“Lost his only child, his son in a crash on a rainy Monday morning in the jungles in Burma," Alyn explains. 

He was one of the original Flying Tigers – an American Volunteer Group of the Chinese Air Force -- protecting liberty in China in the early 1940's.

One retired army veteran, Steve Russell, describes, "To go fight for the freedom and liberty of a people that he didn’t know is a definition of hero, the definition of bravery, and courage  and duty. And to be able to pay our respects is a great honor.”

On Monday, March 20, many paid their respects.

"It’s honestly and amazing feeling. He’s been buried in an unknown grave, an unknown soldier grave for 67 years and to finally be able to identify him and bring him home again with his family," explains Russell.

He was brought home to Illinois by the US Army last week and his cremated remains will be buried with his parents in a cemetery Carbondale, IL.

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