A hero memorialized

25 May 2018 | 02:31

VERNON — In observance of Memorial Day, a special talk was presented at the Dorothy Henry Memorial Library on Saturday May 12.
Vernon resident Chris Wyman spoke of his uncle Burt C. Wyman, who he had never met. Burt Wyman was a 21-year-old American fighter pilot during World War II who successfully flew 48 missions but was shot down over what was thought to be Belgium, never returned home and will forever be 21.
In July of 2017, thanks to citizens of France Michel Chacel and the Howson family, a different perspective of Burt Wyman’s story emerged. Lt. Wyman’s Thunderbird P-47D actually crashed on a French hilltop, 150 feet over the Belgium border on Jan. 29, 1944, after being shot down by a German fighter plane. His final resting place for more than 70 years is the Epinal American Cemetery in northeastern France. Michel Chacel adopted the young lieutenant’s grave, namely its upkeep and placing flowers for holidays and various occasions. Chacel also took it upon himself to locate the crash site and discovered numerous artifacts and plane parts from the crash site. He found Lt. Wyman’s badly burned wristwatch which eerily reads 11:55 a.m., the exact time of the crash according to the official report. The Howson family have also contributed in helping Chris Wyman with pertinent information being the family is fluent in English.
According to Chris Wyman, the discovery of crash information and artifacts have led to Lt. Wyman’s high school friend Albert Williamson. Williamson who is 95 and nicknamed the lieutenant Buddy, recalls more information that the younger Wyman had no knowledge of.
“Buddy wanted to fly and be part of the fight,” Williamson recalled about his friend.
Chris Wyman’s wife, Agatha, read a beautifully haunting tribute poem she had written about Lt. Wyman entitled "Someone Will Come". The poem cites that no one in the Wyman family has visited their hero relative’s grave in Epinal. The Wymans may be contemplating a future trip to France.
The presentation seemed perfect for the upcoming patriotic holiday honoring a true patriot whose family still holds him in their hearts even though facts of his death were shrouded in mystery for over 70 years. The presentation and talk literally brought Lt. Burt C. Wyman home to his loving family.