Remains of Massachusetts bombardier killed in WWII come home after 76 years

First Lieutenant Joseph Finneran was shot down and killed over Romania during World War II's Operation Tidalwave, a bombing mission in 1943, where 178 planes were involved. Following the air raid, 59 planes did not return, including Finneran's.
Caption
First Lieutenant Joseph Finneran was shot down and killed over Romania during World War II's Operation Tidalwave, a bombing mission in 1943, where 178 planes were involved. Following the air raid, 59 planes did not return, including Finneran's.

Credit: waggtime/Pixabay.com

Credit: waggtime/Pixabay.com

For years, everyone in Bill Glennon's family believed Uncle Joe's remains were missing, with little chance of finding them.

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"I'd always heard he was missing in action. It was clear after reading all this stuff that he was never missing in action…he was unidentified," said Glennon.

First Lieutenant Joseph Finneran was shot down and killed over Romania during World War II's Operation Tidalwave, a bombing mission in 1943, where 178 planes were involved. Following the air raid, 59 planes didn't come back, including Finneran's.

"You could have knocked me over with a feather. It was probably the best day of my life," said Glennon. 
With the help of Glennon's genetic fingerprint, his uncle's remains were identified from a grave in Belgium.

Bill's neighbor Jeff Smith helped him find military records and learn more about Joe's missions during World War II.

"It's been a long process," said Smith. "I'm happy for Bill. I'm happy for the family, and I’m happy to have contributed a supporting role in some closure that they well deserve."

Seventy-six years after he gave his life, Glennon says Uncle Joe will finally be getting the honor and recognition he deserves.

"He died a hero. My son is 25. He was 22 when he died, and he gave up all of his future and has been unknown," said Glennon.

On Nov. 1, Finneran's remains were flown back to Massachusetts, arriving in Needham in the evening.

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Dozens gathered in his hometown to welcome back the hero, 76 years later.

"What a town this town of Needham is...a turnout like this - I’m just overwhelmed," said Glennon.

There will be a wake for Finneran next Friday at Doherty’s Funeral Home in Needham, followed by a funeral the next day across the street at St. Joseph’s Parrish.

Glennon says everyone from the public can attend.