On March 19, 1945, the fighter my father was flying crashed in Germany. My mother was 17 years old. She turned 18 less than a month after he was declared missing and presumed dead. I was born three months later. By the time I was old enough to understand he was gone, my mother had remarried and my father was not talked about. When I was eight years old, my father was declared "unrecoverable". I do not know if my mother knew this, but if she did, she never mentioned it to me. When I became an adult, I had no knowledge of my father and no hope of ever finding information about him. When I was contacted by the Army and asked to come to the Family Update, I was skeptical; after all these years, why would anyone have any new information? I had literally spent my life wishing and wanting to know more about my father, but I did not realize that anyone else cared or was still looking for him. I went to the Family Update with high hopes and low expectations; it just didn’t seem possible that anyone could tell me anything because my family had not even mentioned my father. My search for my father was a personal search to find some kind of inner peace with the belief that he was gone and I would never understand what happened and why.
The Family Update I attended was the first I had ever gone to. Before I was contacted by the Army I had no knowledge that the Family Updates were conducted. I was totally unaware of the heroic efforts that are being made to recover and identify the men missing in the wars. I was emotionally stretched as I listened to the stories and descriptions of the work that is being done. More than once I was brought to tears as I learned, for the first time, to how much my country cares about the men who have still not been given a final resting place in a place of honor in this country. I listened and learned and resolved to do whatever I could to find my father. For the first time in my life, I had hope of closure. That, had it been all, would have been a wonderful gift To see the dedicated men and women who work tirelessly to find and identify the missing, and to feel the energy of the relatives who live for a glimmer of hope of finding a close relative still missing in the wars, filled me with new energy and resolve.
I could have left the update energized and ready to go to work, but all that changed when I learned my father had been positively identified. I went into shock, and I am not certain I have recovered yet. I have a very vague memory of the time after I received the information, but I do remember being very grateful for the efforts that had been made to find my father. It is not possible to describe the joy and sorrow that fills your heart when a dream comes true; to know for certain and to weep for the lost years. I picture a young pilot sitting in a peaceful field in Germany waiting for someone to come pick him up and take him home. He is coming home now, and I am so happy to be able to have a place to go to honor him and to know he is resting with his buddies. Now, I am equally resolved to take action, but now I feel I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the men and women who have never given up looking for my father. I also want to add my support to the relatives who still wait. I received a great gift at the update. I truly wish I could share it with every family who is still waiting. I truly believe that some day every man and women who is still missing will be brought home. And I truly believe we can and must do what we can to give those who are searching and waiting our unconditional support.
2nd Lt. Howard Clifton Enoch, Jr. served as a P-51D Mustang fighter pilot with the 368th Fighter Squadron, 359th Fighter Group (nicknamed the "Unicorns"), Eighth Air Force. A native of Marion, Kentucky, he had joined the United States Army Air Force on November 16, 1942 at Patterson Field, Fairfield, Ohio. After entering the Army Air Force, he married Margarete Wylie of Princeton, Kentucky.
On March 19, 1945, 2nd Lt. Enoch, 20 years old, took off from the USAAF base at East Wretham, England for Halle, Germany on an area support mission. Somewhere east of Leipzig, a fellow USAAF aviator saw his aircraft crash after failing to pull out of a dive. Visibility was poor at the time of the crash. Declared missing in action. 2nd Lt. Enoch was awarded the Air Medal and the Purple Heart medal.
Source: World War II Families for Recovery of the Missing (WWRM)
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