VIDEO: Lt. Moritz is Home

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Published on April 28 2012 10:25 am
Last Updated on July 14 2013 12:07 pm

VIDEO UNDER STORY

The remains of 2nd Lt. Charles "Butch" Moritz were returned to Effingham today with the ceremony due a man who died in service to his country.

A motorcade consisting of law enforcement officers, family members and dozens and dozens of the Illinois Patriot Guard Riders arrived in Effingham about 3pm and escorted the hearse to Johnson Funeral Home in Effingham where Lt. Moritz's remains will remain until a graveside service with full military honors on Saturday, May 5 at 1pm at Oakridge Cemetery.  Lt. Moritz was accompanied to Effingham from Lambert Memorial Airport in St. Louis.

Lt Moritz was a member of the 496th Fighter Group stationed in England. He was born on July 16, 1922, the son of Charles J. and Ada (McAdam) Moritz of Effingham.  Lt Moritz and the remnants of his P-51C Mustang bomber escort were discovered by a private group of vintage aircraft enthusiasts (the Lincolnshire Aircraft Recovery Group) in September 2011. The plane and pilot had lain buried 18 feet in the ground near Toft Newton, Lincolnshire for 68 years. The vintage aircraft group was searching for the remains of the plane that collided with Lt Moritz’s aircraft in midair, and found Lt Moritz by accident. The other pilot had parachuted to safety.  Eyewitnesses reported seeing Lt Moritz’s fighter plane spiraling out of the sky at a high rate of speed before it hit the earth, exploded, and burst into flames.

In October 2011, the Department of Defense POW/ Missing Personnel Office contacted Pamela Landers (niece) of Nisswa, Minnesota, Lt Moritz’s oldest living relative, to verify his identity. Items found at the crash site included Lt Moritz’s dog tags, an ID bracelet, and a wallet containing some papers with his name.  Lt. Moritz graduated from Effingham High School. He attended New Mexico military academy for one year, then attended the University of Illinois where he was a member of the polo team. He enlisted in the Army Air Force in August 1942, and received his commission at Foster Field, Victoria, TX. He left the United States on April 29, 1944.

Effingham Mayor Merv Gillenwater has directed that all flags in the city be flown at half-staff through the time of Lt. Moritz's graveside services on May 5.