"The last time he was home, he had me wear his officer's cap," Bill Lanier explains. "Of course, it covered my whole head. He was an impressive guy with his uniform on."
Lanier knew him as uncle. A few personal effects are all Fulton Lanier's family had to hold onto since the Air Force reported him missing in action 54 years ago.
The last flight he made was January 23, 1944. Eight days later, Fulton Lanier flew a supply mission from India to China over the Himalayan Mountains, in the company of four other airmen and in less than desirable flight conditions.
There were heavy rains, almost like a monsoon. Once Lanier was lost, it was impossible to look for him because the area was occupied by the Japanese.
In 1993, Tibetan hunters found the wreckage along with bone fragments. Three years of research on the remains concluded Fulton Lanier had been found.
Lanier's nephew says it gives the family a sense of satisfaction of knowing that he was not captured and tortured.
Arlington National Cemetery will be his final resting place on Friday. It's a special place-- hallowed ground. Lanier admits it's the only time he's ever looked forward to going to a funeral.
"Anytime a person is willing to give his life for his country," Lanier says, "he's a hero. And he deserves to be honored."
Bill Lanier says he and 12 other relatives plan to go to Washington Friday for the funeral. The deceased pilot's sister, who's 86 years old, will be unable to make the trip.
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