A very solemn ceremony at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station honoring the return of World War II Prisoner of War Lieutenant Thomas Crotty from South Buffalo.
Crotty was a member of the US Coast Guard. He died in 1942 while at a Japanese POW camp. He was the first coast guard prisoner of war since the war of 1812 and one of four cost guard POWs during WWII.
“It’s incredible, we’re overwhelmed with joy. We never thought this would happen,” said Patrick Crotty his great nephew.
Crotty’s family spearheaded the efforts to get his remains returned to Western New York.
“We heard stories about him from our parents, his siblings and my grandmother,” said Crotty.
The process to find him took over a decade it involved lots of research and DNA testing. Coast Guard historian William Thiesen says the POWs at the camp buried Crotty’s remains outside prison walls, along with others.
According to the Defense POW MIA Accounting Agency there are 79,000 thousand Americans unaccounted for for the WWII conflict.
“All the other people that were lost in the line of duty during WWII or were missing in action or were lost at sea, their remains obviously could never be returned,” said Thiesen.