SYLVESTER, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – United States Air Force Tech Sergeant Frank Cross Ferrell was in a bomber over Romania on August 1, 1943 when he was shot down and later declared Missing In Action. His family back in Texas received word along with a folded flag and for nearly 80 years, this was the end of the story.
“My mother was his youngest sister… It crushed her she would talk about it but she wouldn’t talk about it at length,” said Ferrell’s nephew Simon Terrazas.
Through a DNA analysis program, his remains were identified on January 10, 2023. Bringing a more fitting end to his story, and closure to his family.
Following the crash, Ferrel’s remains were buried in the Hero Section of the Civilian and Military Cemetery of Bolovan, Ploiesti, Prahova, Romania alongside more than 80 other unidentified veterans, but with the new developments, ‘Uncle Frank’ can finally come home.
“I am thrilled to be able to do this for my mother,” Terrazas expressed.
“It means a lot. It’s drilled into us from basic training. Never leave a fallen comrade. This comrade had fell. But we finally got him home,” said Sergeant First Class Thomas Baldwin.
Baldwin and Staff Sergeant Matthew Sands were tasked with rendering honors and escorting Ferrel’s remains to their final resting place. Both going above and beyond to support Ferrell’s remaining family.
“I felt it was my duty… And I figured I’d see it through,” Sands explained.
Upon identification, Ferrel’s family was offered a burial plot at Arlington National Veteran Cemetery. Gracious though the offer was, they knew him better and opted to bring their fallen hero home.
“Every one of us that are still living thought that he belonged at home,” said Terrazas.
Ferrell was laid to rest at the Newman Cemetery just outside his hometown of Sylvester, Texas. His family hoped to find an open plot, and rejoiced upon hearing that the plot next to Ferrell’s mother was available.
“Bringing that soldier home is the most important thing that the United States of America could do,” said Sgt. Baldwin.
Baldwin and Sands actions making the mantra ‘No man left behind’ more than just words. An honor they said was a deeply emotional experience.
“It means everything. Doesn’t matter, WWI, WWII. Those who have served before, those who have served currently. We owe it to each other. Nobody left behind,” Sands added.
A family found closure as the hometown hero made his triumphant return, and a mother finally reunited with her son after 80 years of searching.
“She’s looking at us from heaven and she’s proud as a mouse right now,” Terrazas said.
During the funeral service at McCoy Funeral home in Sweetwater, Ferrell’s niece and nephew were bestowed with the honors and medals that Ferrell would have received.
These awards include the Purple Heart, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the European/African/Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, the three Bronze Service Stars, the World War II Victory Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Enlisted Air Crew Member Wings, and the Honorable Service lapel button WWII.