When the casket bearing Sergeant Howard Gotts arrived in Rochester August 31, 2019, it closed a chapter on a sacred part of family history. The loved one who went to war and died there was finally home.
Howard Gotts was born and raised in the Ontario County town of Flint.
He graduated from Geneva High School in 1937 and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps four years later. On August 1, 1943 he was killed in a bombing run during World War II. Officials could never match a name to the remains and for decades they were buried in a military cemetery in Belgium. Two years ago they were brought back to the U.S. and with the help of DNA samples provided by his great-nieces, Gotts was finally identified.
After he died, Gotts’ parents placed a memorial headstone at the Sand Hill cemetery in Stanley. They passed away in the 1950’s and the last of Gotts’ three siblings, in 2017. They always longed for a reunion, and now they will get one.
“I know my grandmother is looking down from heaven and she’s rejoicing because this is nothing short of a miracle,” said Joyce Richardson, Gotts’ great-niece.
“We’re still mourning his loss but it’s also a celebration of bringing him home to be buried with his family,” said U.S. Army Major Brian Kent. Kent is Gotts great great grandnephew, and escorted his casket to Rochester. “It’s an honor to be able to bring him back,” he said.
76 years after his death, the community pays tribute to a beloved native son. Gotts will be buried with full military honors at 11 am Monday, September 2nd at the Sand Hill Cemetery in Stanley.
The mission of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency is to account for Americans who went missing while serving the country. For more information, visit the DPAA website here.