WWII Pilot Missing Since 1944 Finally Laid to Rest in Alabama



by April Douglas, Liz Nelson, Photojournalist: Eric Lowe


MOBILE, Ala. – It’s a day Annie Ruth Owen thought would never come; the day she’d bury her first husband.

Her husband, Lt. Woodie McVay, has been listed as missing in action since 1944. The 26 year old Navy fighter pilot was shot down over the Pacific during World War II.

"He gave his life willingly. He’s a hero, in my book and a lot of people’s," said Owen.

Six decades passed before Lt. McVay’s family, many of whom he never laid eyes on, learned what happened to the young man considered among the greatest generation. Lt. McVay was buried in Saipan at a Catholic cemetary – his grave marked unknown for years.

Led by the Patriot Guard, the hearse carrying Lt. McVay wound its way to Pine Crest Cemetery.

"Been gone for 65 years and finally come back to sweet Alabama soil, a real hero," said Michael Byears, a member of the Patriot Guard.

So, under blue skies Lt. McVay was finally laid to rest again, this time beside his parents and the daughter he never knew.


"It’s really great to bring him home, as a long-time Navy guy and former pilot, it’s just really great to bring a guy like that home," shared Capt. Jim Ingals.

fox10tvGun shots rang out – a 21 gun saute in honor of the fallen hero. As the American flag that was draped across Lt. McVay’s casket is given to his widow, two Goose Hawk fighter jets flew over.

"He went through Pensacola to flight training and that’s where those jets came from. They are the next generation of fighter pilots," said Capt. Ingals.

Owen said she wants to thank the military for this closure, and for recognizing her husband’s sacrifice, even it took 65 years to bring him home.

Lt. McVay’s awards included the Purple Heart, and the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with Gold Star, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two Bronze Stars. Lt. McVay was a graduate of Murphy High School and Springhill College.

For more great stories, please visit our friends at FOX10TV.com




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