NJ family buries uncle 66 years after death

December 27, 2012

"I started to break down because the reality is that he's home," said Carlton Dobovich.

In a day filled with ceremony and emotion, Carlton Dobovich and his family are saying farewell to the uncle they never knew.

It was 1946, before they were born, when 21-year-old Army Air Corp Staff Sgt. Zolton Dobovich of Bethlehem Township was killed after his B-17 crashed into the French-Italian Alps.

"Apparently when it hit, it went over a wide area. As the glaciers started deteriorating or melting exposed it exposed more and more," said Joseph Dobovich.

After the crash, the original remains of the 8-member crew were brought back to the U.S. and buried in a single grave at Arlington National Cemetery.

But more remains have been uncovered and through modern science tied conclusively to Sgt. Dobovich, whose family both mourns and celebrates his homecoming.

"We know him by name, we knew he was in Arlington with his crew, but now it's real. My uncle is home, and that's all that matters," said Carlton.

The sergeant's remains were positively identified using DNA from a distant cousin in Georgia--a relative the Dobovichs in this area say they didn't even know existed.

"Bringing my uncle back, his gift to us, was family members that we didn't know we ever had," said Rosalie Baker.

"As long as there's someone missing and as long as there's a family member that's waiting for someone to come home, we never leave a fallen person behind; ever," said Captain Michael Frazier.

And so, 66 years after he was killed in that crash half a world away, Sgt. Zoltan Dobovich is finally with his family, buried with full military honors at the Brig. Gen. William C. Doyle Veterans Cemetery in Arneystown.

His nieces and nephews, who heard so many stories from their parents growing up about "Uncle Zoli", say he will be buried next to his brother.

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