A Chance for Closure for One WWII Widow
For more than 66 years, Ruth Garmong has thought daily of her beloved Bill, the high school sweetheart she wed just before he left for World War II and died in a plane crash in Burma.
Garmong, now 85, was pregnant when Staff Sgt. William C. Fetterman perished in 1943. She remarried and had two more children, but her late second husband, with whom she shared most of her life, "always knew he was second choice."
Because of a second tragedy, though, Garmong was never able to bury Fetterman. In 1946, his remains were unearthed along with about 40 other American war dead buried in Burma by Japanese occupiers. They were put on a plane headed to India en route to the U.S. for a stateside burial, but that aircraft crashed too and was never found.
Never, that is, until three months ago, when Arizona adventurer Clayton Kuhles located its wreckage in the jungle of the eastern Indian state of Tripura. Researchers took the serial numbers he found and matched them last month with government records to determine that this was, in fact, the C-47 that had carried Garmong's husband's body.
It was, by far, the largest and most significant find for Kuhles, 55, since he began his one-man mission in 2000 to locate American planes that went missing during World War II across south-central Asia. He's located 16 never before found wrecks in India, Myanmar and China and provided an accounting of the whereabouts of the remains of at least 100 service members. But this C-47 discovery has the potential to resolve lifelong questions for dozens of grieving families.
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