Veterans day is this Sunday, but one local community today honored one of its own. The body of Walter Edward Mintus – a Portage native – made it home Friday, after he was killed in action decades ago, during World War Two.
Residents came out to pay their respects the local airman who died a day short of his 23rd birthday.
Mintus’s body traveled in a procession past the Portage Area High School and Middle Schools. He will be buried on Saturday.
Mintus’s crew was on a mission to bomb a Japanese base—with his aircraft in the lead position of four Avengers when it was shot down. He and his two crew members were declared MIA, until this year.
An organization called Project Recover used state-of-the-art robotic underwater vehicles to locate the Avenger. Dive teams were then sent down to recover the three airmen.
“It was very difficult.. I actually began the search in July of 1994. We. found the plane in 2014, so it took 20 years looking for it,” said Patrick Scannon, President of Project Recover.
It was a couple of years later that U.S. Navy divers located the bodies and were able to recover Mintus and one of the other airmen.
Mintus’s nephew and other surviving family members will hold a funeral ceremony for him Saturday, at St. Joseph Holy Family Catholic Church. They’ll celebrate his life and his service to his country.