ESSEX, Vt. – Sixty-six years after his plane crashed in Corsica, a World War II pilot was laid to rest Friday at a family plot in Vermont.

U.S. Army Air Force First Lt. Ray Fletcher, of Westborough, Mass., and four others were on a courier mission when their plane crashed into a mountain on May 10, 1944, five days after Fletcher turned 27.

All five died, but their remains, scattered in rugged terrain, weren’t recovered until 2005. DNA from relatives confirmed their identities.

On Friday, Fletcher’s flag-draped casket was carried past a line of veterans bearing flags and into the small St. James Episcopal Church in Vermont, where his parents were from, for a funeral.

Fletcher’s cousin, 90-year-old Rhetta Fletcher, of Lanesborough, Mass., who picked the hymnals and songs such as “God Bless America” and “Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder” for the funeral, called it a wonderful day that gives closure to the family.

“I don’t think there’s anything to mourn at this late date. It’s just closure,” she said.

Fletcher’s remains were placed below a gravestone inscribed years ago with his name, and bearing the names of his parents and sister as a soldier played taps from a far corner.

The B-25 pilot had earned eight Air medals, which at the time meant that he had flown more than 70 combat missions, said Lt. Col. Michael Assid, current commander of the squadron in which Fletcher had served.


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