LORAIN, Ohio (WJW)– A funeral with full military honors was held Friday morning for a U.S. Army Airman killed in World War II after his plane was shot down during a bombing mission over Germany.
The remains of 1st Lt. Steve Nagy were returned to his hometown of Lorain 77 years after he was killed, ending of decades of pain and uncertainty for his family.
“Oh, this is fantastic, it’s a miracle. It’s something that’s going to bring closure to the family and we all know the story now of what really happened to Uncle Steve and his bravery,” said Richard Nagy, his nephew.
An investigation by the military revealed that after 1st Lt. Nagy’s B-17 Flying Fortress was shot down in August 1944 in Merseberg, Germany, his badly charred remains and those of two other crew members were buried together in a cemetery in Germany.
After the war, they were moved to a cemetery for unknown American service members killed in Europe. Then in 2017, research by a military historian revealed some of the unidentified remains were likely those of Steve Nagy. It was confirmed by a comparison of DNA from his nephews in Lorain.
“It’s our ongoing commitment to this family, to the country, to the soldiers themselves, saying no matter what, we’re not going to give up on you,” said Maj. Patrick Hernandez, the casualty operations officer for the state of Ohio.
First Lt. Nagy attended the Clearview Local Schools, and on Friday morning, hundreds of Clearview students carrying American flags lined the funeral procession route outside the school complex, as a show of respect.
“Being in the service, and the sacrifice that he made for us and for the United States of America,” said Clearview superintendent Dr. Jerome Davis.
Nagy was being laid to rest at Elmwood Cemetery in Lorain. In 1949, his grieving mother purchased a burial plot and a memorial stone at the cemetery. The engraved stone read “In memory of Steve Nagy, 1920 to 1944.” We are told that Mrs. Nagy often visited the cemetery, because it made her feel close to her lost son.
Surviving family members said they wish Nagy’s loved ones who have passed away could see that their prayers were finally answered.
The commitment of the U.S. military to solve the mystery of what happened to Nagy has touched the hearts of his family.
“I’m very thankful that they showed the honor to a man that made the ultimate sacrifice. He didn’t question, you know ‘Should I go or not,’ he was gone and he took care of the job,” Richard Nagy said.
After a 21-gun salute and a touching rendition of Taps at the cemetery, a flyover by a C-130 Hercules was the final and fitting tribute to 1st Lt. Steve Nagy on the day he finally made it home.