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Houston war hero laid to rest 76 years after he died during WWII at age 22

1st Lt. Ottaway Cornwell was a U.S. Army pilot whose plane was shot down in 1944. His remains weren't found until 2016 and he was finally brought home to Houston.

HOUSTON — A Houston war hero was finally laid to rest Friday, 76 years after his death during World War II. Veterans and others who never met 1st Lt. Ottaway Cornwell were on hand to honor him during the ceremony at Houston National Ceremony. 

The U.S. Army pilot was 22 years old when his plane was shot down over France on Jan. 27, 1944. He was piloting a Supermarine Spitfire aircraft when a German warplane attacked him. A witness reported two American planes had crashed into a mountainside.

His family never knew for sure what happened and the Aldine High School graduate's remains weren't found until 2016. They were finally identified in 2018. 

Lt. Cornwell’s wife and parents have since died, but his nephew attended the ceremony at Houston National Cemetery to represent the family.

"Just from my dad talking about him and his memories, talking about his mother and how much she missed him and how regrettable it was for her to never know exactly where he was or what had happened to him," Scott Cornwell told us. 

The French researcher who found the remains alongside the plane's wreckage also flew to Houston to attend the ceremony. 

"He made a promise to his remains that he would see this through to conclusion," Scott said.

The moving tribute included four Air Force pilots flying T38s who performed the missing man formation in honor of Lt. Cornwell.

"I'm glad we could be here to represent the family today," the nephew said. "My dad would have been honored."

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