CARBONDALE — The remains of a southern Illinois native who flew planes in Southeast Asia more than 75 years ago have returned home for burial.
Maax Curtis Hammer Jr. died when his plane crashed in what is now Myanmar in 1941, the Southern Illinoisan reported. His remains returned to Carbondale on Wednesday via dignified transport from Hawaii, where he was buried for 67 years in a grave marked “Unknown.”
A visitation is planned for March 20 in Carbondale and a private family graveside service is planned for the next morning.
Hammer was part of the Flying Tigers, a group of volunteer pilots who helped the British and Chinese defend what was Burma and China from the Japanese. On Sept. 22, 1941, Hammer apparently entered an inverted spin while flying in a storm and could not recover from it. A crash site investigator indicated Hammer’s plane hit the ground nose first, and his remains were discovered on the plane’s engine 15 feet below the ground.
Hammer’s family was officially notified of his DNA match to one of his living cousin’s sample on Jan. 4, 2017.
Tripp Alyn, a distant cousin of Hammer’s, hopes Oakland Cemetery is his relative’s final burial site. Hammer’s parents and grandparents are also buried at the Carbondale cemetery.
“He was in a grave marked ‘Unknown’ for 67 years,” Alyn said. “The most important thing is to know that Maax is going to be back with his parents. It’s what’s so gratifying to me.”
Tuesday’s service will include a Missing Man Flyover by the A-10 Warthogs, which are similar to the planes Hammer flew.