A local decorated World War II veteran missing in action since 1951 was recently honored with a ceremony and marker in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
U.S. Air Force Capt. Roger “Doc” Vincent was honored with a military ceremony and marker placed at Arlington. Close family members and friends attended the solemn service on Sept. 25.
The ceremony began as a U.S. Air Force marching band played while a folded flag was carefully placed in a flag-draped coffin on a horse-drawn caisson. The honors included a fly-over and a gun salute.
Vincent and another decorated Sandwich World War II veteran, Capt. Walter Peterson, were among the occupants of a C-124 cargo plane flying to England in March 1951. Vincent and Peterson were in the U.S. Air Force Reserves and recalled to active duty shortly before the flight.
Their mission was to set up a Strategic Air Command Base in England. Because of a fire in the cargo hold, the plane’s pilot was forced to ditch in the Atlantic 400 miles from Ireland.
After the plane went down, a B-29 flying out of England spotted the men in life rafts and reported their position, according to remarks made by the Air Force chaplain during the service. The pilot of the B-29 circled overhead until a low fuel level forced him to return to England.
A massive air-sea rescue mission was launched. It took 19 hours for air-sea vessels to reach the area. When the sea vessels arrived, the 53 men, including Vincent and Peterson, had vanished. Small pieces of wreckage were seen, but the rafts were never found.
Vincent left behind his wife, Bette, and two children, Linda and Aprill Vincent.
Peterson was previously honored at Arlington National Cemetery with a marker signifying his March 23, 1951, sacrifice.
The Air Force chaplain performing the ceremony gave a brief account of the circumstances resulting in the loss and acknowledged that “the mystery continues. ... The fate of the men is unknown to this day.”