At 76, Marla Lawrence Dickson Andrews had long given up hope of ever finding her father, who died during World War II when she was just two and whose remains were deemed "nonrecoverable" in 1949. On Friday, what she had given up on came to be: The remains of Capt. Lawrence E. Dickson, one of the elite black aviators known as the Tuskegee Airmen and one of just 27 who went missing during the war, have been found in Austria, per the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. They were positively identified using DNA analysis after being recovered from the site in August. Andrews tells the New York Times that she learned of her father's final moments from a wingman who wrote her a 4-page letter in 1997.
Robert L. Martin detailed how on Dec. 23, 1944, during a reconnaissance mission that took off from Italy and was bound for Czechoslovakia, her father suffered engine trouble at 26,000 feet. Martin wrote that he stayed with Dickson's plane as it went down until it vanished; he and the other wingman couldn't see any parachute or wreckage. The Washington Post reports it was Dickson's 68th mission, with his previous service earning him the Distinguished Flying Cross. Andrews is now hoping to have her father buried in Arlington National Cemetery. A footnote from the Times: Martin died at age 99 on Thursday, one day before the news about Dickson was announced. (Two Tuskegee airmen who were lifelong friends died on the same day.)