LOS ANGELES | Family rejoices at finding of soldier’s World War II plane

STL.News



LOS ANGELES | Family rejoices at finding of soldier’s World War II plane

LOS ANGELES — Tom Kelly grew up on a Northern California farm and once thought of becoming a cowboy before World War II got in the way.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces instead, and on March 11, 1944, the 21-year-old 2nd lieutenant was aboard a B-24 bomber with 10 others when it was struck by Japanese anti-aircraft fire and plunged into the Pacific Ocean.

When the plane Kelly and his fellow crew members called Heaven Can Wait was found at the bottom of a bay off the coast of Papua New Guinea, a wave of exhilaration — albeit one mixed with grief — washed over his family, including many members too young to have ever met him.

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