After more than 50 years, U.S. Army Sgt. Gerald Von Atkinson’s body was returned to his hometown of Chattahoochee for burial services with full military honors this past Saturday at Mount Pleasant
At age 19, Atkinson enlisted in the US Army and traveled during World War II to many locations throughout the world including Belgium, Hawaii and Germany. Two years later, while touring in Germany, Atkinson’s aircraft was attacked by six to eight German ME-262 jets. The aircraft crashed into the Grob Glasow Lake near Grob Schonebeck, Germany; only one crew member survived out of nine. Atkinson was 21.
According to a press release from the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO), German nationals recovered remains from Grob Glasow Lake in 1946 and 1947. The Germans believed the remains belonged to
In August 1947, the remains were exhumed by the U.S. Army and reinterred as unknowns in Belsium. American airmen, later buried as unknowns in a community cemetery in Germany.
In 2012, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command re-examined records and concluded that it would be possible to identify the unknown remains. To identify Atkinson’s remains, scientists used circumstantial evidence and mitochondrial DNA to confirm the identity of Atkinson’s remains. His identity was confirmed because it matched the DNA of his cousin..
During the ceremony, family, friends and US servicemen joined together in honor of his legacy and shared personal stories about Atkinson’s upbringing and experiences as a U.S. Army Air Forces Staff Sgt.
“Gerald was an outgoing man and played on a championship high school football team,” a family member reflected emotionally. “He grew up building model airplanes and was a person who loved life and wanted to make a difference.”
More than 30 individuals dressed in patriotic attire marched with American flags as Atkinson’s casket was carried out by US servicemen at the beginning of the service. The creed of the Noncommissioned Officer, better known as the NCO creed, was recited by US soldiers and veterans.
Following the reading of several Scripture passages and much prayer, led by an NCO sergeant, Atkinson’s casket was laid to rest in the family plot in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, finally bringing closure to the entire Atkinson family with much honor.
“We are glad he is brought home,” Glenda Atkinson of Tallahassee concluded.