The remains of a soldier killed during World War II were officially laid to rest Monday in Cambria county.
John Holoka Jr. was a member of the United States Army Air Forces and after being considered unrecoverable for decades, family members say he was identified thanks to D.N.A testing.
“This is more than we ever dreamed. And it happened in our lifetime, so this is what makes it great,” said Susanne Ciarello, Holoka’s niece. “Were here for the celebration of my Uncle Johnny.”
Ciarello says her Uncle John Holoka was a native of Cresson, Pennsylvania and joined the United States Army Air Forces in his early twenties.
“Really, other than a picture, I don’t, I never knew him. He was supposed to be my god father. He got killed in June and I was born in January, so I never met him, My mother never spoke too much about him cause it was too touching for her.”
Holoka was killed while serving as an engineer on a United States Army Air Force Aircraft that crashed into an England farm after being hit by an anti-aircraft on June 22, 1944.
In November 1947, the Army Quartermaster Corps launched an investigation to find Holoka’s remains, but he was declared unrecoverable in 1950.
The idea of Holoka being unrecoverable changed sixty seven years later, in 2017.
“Well, we got notified that they were going to do this dig and they asked for the D.N.A,”
Ciarello says she and several other family members submitted D.N.A tests and six years later she received the phone call that her D.N.A was a match with the remains recovered during a recovery mission by the United States Department of Defense.
“That’s what brought him home, I was in a state of shock. I was so relieved that it was found in our lifetime. I couldn’t wait to reach out, I think the first call was my daughter and my sister to let them know. Actually, my sister might have been first on this one. I can’t imagine remembering anything better than this day. This is, this is so moving for all of us I can say.”
Holoka’s family says they are not only celebrating the soldier being laid to rest, but his birthday as he would have been 104 years old Monday.