The Promise: We will not rest until we have found you. And, someday, God willing, we will bring you all home..
Click on photos to view entire photo albums. Videos are below article.
Jan. 12, 2013 – Channel 6 – Perspective NJ
Bucks County Local News – On Nov. 1, 1946, a year after the end of World War II, U.S. Army Air Corpsman Staff Sgt. Zoltan J. Dobovich boarded a plane in Naples that was bound for England.
A radioman from Riegelsville and Butztown who was just 21 at the time of his death, Dobovich and seven others aboard the B-17 Flying Fortress were never heard from again.
Now, thanks to DNA testing performed by Armed Forces personnel in Honolulu, the remains of Dobovich have been returned to family members who reside in Burlington County.
In 1947, a year after Dobovich’s flight went missing, a French military unit operating in the French-Italian Alps, near Estellette Glacier, found the wreckage of the ill-fated aircraft at an altitude of more than 12,000 feet. The Aiguille des Glaciers or Mont Blanc as it is more commonly known, is said to be the highest mountain at the Italian-French border.
The wreckage strewn across a wide path of the ice-covered peak, it would take more than 30 years for the glacier to surrender the remains of the crewmen, clues necessary for identification.
In the months following the crash, attempts to locate the wreckage proved unsuccessful. When those initial remains were were recovered in 1947, no individual identifications could be made and U.S. Armed Forces officials had no choice but to bury what was found in a single grave at Arlington National Cemetery.
From 1972 to 1975 and in 1979, additional remains were recovered from the crash site, primarily by Italian military authorities. However, none of those remains could be individually identified. In 1983, Italian military personnel again recovered remains from the crash site and through advances made in DNA testing, the remains of the radioman from Bucks County were identified.
In a ceremony at Philadelphia International Airport, the Staff Sergeant was returned home to his family. According to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer, veterans from the Patriots Guard and Warriors Watch provided a motorcycle escort for the hearse on its trip from the airport to a funeral home in Mount Holly.Dobovich was buried Thursday at the Brig. Gen. William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Wrightstown, North Hanover Township, N.J.
Remarkably, Francis Raout, the French soldier who made the initial discovery of the crash site, is still alive.
“In 1947, with my comrades of the 99th Infantry Battalion Alpine, I found the B-17 that disappeared in the Franco-Italian glaciers of Mont Blanc and saw the coffin common to all the crew before going to the U.S. Air Force,” Raout stated in an email dated a week ago (Dec. 18).
“I would never have thought that in 2012, I could offer my sincere condolences to the family of Zoltan Dobovich – one of my “Heroes Américzains” at home.
“I am pleased to have rendered service to the USA, the great nation whose sons liberated France and Europe.”
Dobovich was one of four enlisted men aboard the B-17G that was scheduled to land in Bovington, England 1 November, 1946. The plane was reportedly flown by Los Angeles native Col. Hudson H. Upham, assistant chief of staff for traffic for the Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS), a massive, joint military aircrew training program created by the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Major Lawrence L. Cobb, of Petersburg, Va., was the co-pilot. Cobb was said to be an executive officer in the traffic section at EATS, which remains as one of the single largest aviation training programs in history and was responsible for training nearly half the allied pilots, navigators, bomb aimers, air gunners, wireless operators and flight engineers.
The others on board included Lieut. Alfred D. Ramirez, the navigator from New York City; Master Sgt. John E. Gilbert, the flight engineer from Frankfort, Indiana; Tech. Sgt. William S. Cassell, the assistant radio operator from Mount Airy, N.C.; Staff Sgt. William A. Hilton, the assistant engineer from San Angeloe, Texas; and Col. Ford L. Fair, of Washington, D.C. A command pilot, Fair was reportedly Chief of Staff for EATS.
Dobovich is survived by his niece, Rosalie Baker and two nephews, Joseph Dobovich and Carlton Dobovich.
|Channel 10 News Coverage 12/27/2012||Ssgt Dobovich Remains Coming Home 12/24/2012|
|Fox News Coverage 12/27/2012||Channel 6 News Coverage|
|12/27/2012 - Executive Order No. 121 − Ordering all State buildings to fly flags at half-staff on Thursday, December 27, 2012 to honor the service and sacrifice of United States Army Staff Sergeant Zoltan Dobovich, who was a member of an air crew reported missing in Europe in 1946. Sergeant Dobovich’s remains were recently identified and returned to his family in Jackson, New Jersey for burial with full military honors. A copy of the Executive Order No. 121 [pdf 15kB]To view OBIT from Perinchief Funeral Home, click here||