The nephew of a late US Air Force member recently received shocking – and welcome – news about the death of a relative.
In 1944, Sgt. John Holuca, age 25, was serving on duty World War II in the United States Air Force when his family was informed of his death in the line of duty.
family, based Cresson, Pennsylvania, He did not give any details of his death – and for many decades they tried to get information about what happened.
Recently, however, Huluka’s nephew, Keith Levatino Little Falls, New YorkThen, he receives word that Holuka’s remains have finally been located.
He told Fox News Digital in an interview that the news — and the details — led to a much-needed shutdown. (Watch the video interview with Levatino at the top of this article.)
Sgt. Holoca’s story
“I remember hearing stories about it crashed into the ocean, “He crashed in different parts of Europe,” Levatino said of his uncle, Sergeant John Holuca.
He said he had memories of his relatives talking about his uncle.
He also said he learned about it from the large photo his grandmother kept of her missing brother in her house.
“Everywhere they lived, there was a big picture of Uncle John Holoca,” Levatino recalled.
For nearly six decades, Levatino’s grandmother and her siblings have been writing letters to the military—hoping and praying for answers and details about how the young pilot died.
Even though Holuka’s siblings are now dead, Levatino said he was always upset that they never had definitive answers about what happened to “Johnny.”
Then, in 2017, “suddenly,” his family received a long-awaited call.
How were the remains discovered?
Levatino was contacted that year by a representative from the US Army Corps.
The representative said the Army Corps would begin excavations to locate the remains of various soldiers — including Holoca.
The actor asked Levatino if he would be willing to give away DNA, potentially linking that DNA to whatever remains of Huluca could be found.
Levantino willingly agreed.
Sgt. Holoca’s remains were then located – and identified.
“You can imagine what it felt like there, that they know where he is,” Levatino told Fox News Digital.
“I now have a seal, not for me, but to preserve his memory, his service.”
“I’m doing all this for my grandmother and her familyBecause it helps me finish what they’ve been looking for for five or six decades.”
Details of Holoca’s final journey while serving his country – and dying – are finally emerging.
Sgt. Holoca’s final moments
The Ministry of Defense reports that on 22 June 1944 a B-24H Liberator was shot down near Arundel, West Sussex, killing three of the ten crew members.
The plane was shot down by an anti-aircraft missile after it launched a raid on a German airfield in nearby Versailles, France.
The pilot was somehow able to keep the plane moving over the English coast – before the crew was ordered to bail, according to the MoD.
seven of The crew is 10 men He successfully bails out of the plane.
But 24-year-old Lieutenant William Montgomery, co-pilot John Crowther, and engineer Sgt. John Holuca remained on board in an effort to recover the plane, Fox News Digital reported earlier.
The BNPS news service noted of the crash that “the stricken aircraft struck a ball of flames minutes later”.
Levatino said he hoped “my grandmother and her relatives will now have the peace they have been looking for all those years.”
National Geographic reports that co-pilot Crowther was immediately recovered — but Montgomery and Huluca have been missing for decades.
Lt. Montgomery’s remains were found in the same excavations that uncovered Sgt. Holoca remains, as noted by Fox News Digital.
Levatino said Holuka, who was an engineer on the B-24H Liberator, would have been seated near the nose of the plane. This is where the engineers will sit during the flight.
The American Graves Recording Command (AGRC), Army Quartermaster Corps, was tasked with recovering missing personnel from the crash site in 1946, according to a Department of Defense press release.
In November 1947, AGRC investigators searched the crash site area but did not discover the remains of any other crew members, the MoD said.
In May 1950, Holuka was declared “non-refundable”.
“I know the whole story.”
In 2017 and 2019, the US Department of Defense made efforts to recover possible human remains. at the crash site.
He said Levatino was doing his own research in the meantime.
The plane reportedly crashed at Park Farm in Arundel, England.
Levatino manages to track down the owner of the ranch, as well as the lead American archaeologist on the excavation team.
“That led me to talk to the British archaeological team, the archaeologist…and they cataloged the whole incident,” he said.
The man who now owns Park Farm, which has remained in the family through successive generations, told Levatino about his father and grandfather who saw the plane crash on their land.
He said, “I know the whole story.”
Find the missing hero
While digging, Holuka is finally identified.
“They found a piece of jawbone and three molar cavities… One of the molars was the root of the tooth and that’s where the DNA was found,” Levatino said.
Holuka’s remains were found using anthropological analysis, physical evidence, dental mitochondrial DNA analysis and Y chromosome analysis, the Defense Department said in a news release.
Levatino sent pieces of a body armor that had been buried for 79 years.
Although it may not have been exactly what belonged to his great uncle (and flak jackets are made differently today), the old pattern of manufacturing suggests it once belonged to a missing crew member, he said.
He said Levatino had been in contact with a relative of Lt. Montgomery, adding that they had been able to discuss their late relatives.
Of the discovery of his uncle’s remains, he said, “I now have closure—not to myself, but to preserve his memory, and to serve him.”
He also said he hoped “my grandmother and her relatives will now have the peace they have been searching for all those years.”
The Department of Defense has indicated that Huluca will be buried in Portage, Pennsylvania, on May 1, 2023.