Bird, Vernal John, 2nd Lt

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Second Lieutenant
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
M 1051-Pilot - Two-Engine
Last AFSC Group
Primary Unit
1944-1944, M 1051, 3rd Bombardment Group, Light
Service Years
1941 - 1944
Second Lieutenant

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by AB Raymond Guinn to remember Bird, Vernal John, 2nd Lt.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Last Address
Nadzab Air Field Complex, Papua New Guinea

Casualty Date
Mar 12, 1944
Hostile, Died
Air Loss, Crash - Land
Papua New Guinea
World War II/China-India-Burma Theater/India-Burma Campaign (1942-45)
Location of Interment
Evergreen Cemetery - Springville, Utah
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Association Memberships
World War II FallenAmerican Battle Monuments Commission
  1944, World War II Fallen
  2017, American Battle Monuments Commission

 Photo Album   (More...

 Ribbon Bar

Pilot Badge

 Unit Assignments
5th Air Force13th Bombardment Squadron, Light3rd Bombardment Group, Light
  1944-1944, M 1051, 5th Air Force
  1944-1944, M 1051, 13th Bombardment Squadron, Light
  1944-1944, M 1051, 3rd Bombardment Group, Light
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1944-1944 World War II/Asian-Pacific Theater/New Guinea Campaign (1943-44)
 My Aircraft/Missiles
A-20 Havoc  
  1942-1944, A-20 Havoc
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

SALT LAKE CITY – Only a sole surviving sibling has a distant memory of a World War II pilot whose recently identified remains will be buried Saturday with full military honors in Utah. U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Vernal J. Bird had more than a dozen brothers and sisters when he crashed over a Pacific Ocean island nearly 70 years ago. He disappeared over Papua New Guinea on a 1944 bombing run of Japanese airfields there. He was 25.

The crash site was discovered 12 years ago, but it wasn't until this summer that the Air Force was able to identify partial remains found there as belonging to Bird. This week, about 150 distant relatives showed up at the Salt Lake airport as those remains -- only a single leg bone was recovered -- arrived inside a flag-draped casket on an airliner. None of them knew Bird personally. His younger sister, Elaine Bird Jack of Eugene, Ore., is his lone surviving sibling and the only one who has a memory of him, said Lorna Bird Snyder, the airman's 66-year-old niece. The 92-year-old Jack is in Utah for the burial at Evergreen Cemetery in Springville, Snyder told The Associated Press. She was the 13th child of the family; Bird was the 12th. Jack provided a DNA sample that was used to identify her brother's fibula, the outer and thinner of the long bones of a lower leg.

Relatives are hoping a full excavation of the crash site will yield more remains, Snyder said. The Air Force is moving cautiously because a 500-pound unexploded bomb is still attached to the A-20G Havoc bomber. The remains of Bird's co-pilot, Staff Sgt. Roy Davis from New Hampshire, have not been found. The crash site on a forested mountainside was discovered in 2001 by a Papuan national, who delivered the fibula along with engine identification plates of the bomber to an American recovery team. The Air Force identified the bone as Bird's in July.

In the airman's last letter to his family, he described how he flew his light bomber barely above tree-top level, saying "we fly right in the leaves at times." It was written two days before his bomber went down March 12, 1944. His niece spent years researching where -- over the Pacific Ocean or New Guinea -- his plane might have gone down. She compared boxes of the airman's letters against records of the American-Australian effort against the Japanese.

If not for Snyder's dogged efforts, the recovered bone might never have gotten a DNA comparison. Vernal Bird was born Oct. 29, 1918, in Lindon to Walter F. and Christina Pearsson Ash Bird. He attended schools in Lindon and Pleasant Grove. The family later moved to Springville, another Utah County town, according to an obituary. Although Jack is the only one who knew Bird personally, relatives never forgot him, Snyder said. They kept the airman's smiling portrait among family mementos. "My parents of course loved him," Snyder said. "They instilled in us that Vernal was an honorable, brave, intelligent young man. We loved his picture."


SSgt Roy Davis:
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