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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Remains of airman killed in World War II finally laid to rest in Leesburg

Staff. Sgt. Franklin P. Hall
Staff. Sgt. Franklin P. Hall

Local residents mourned the loss of U.S. Army Air Force Staff Sgt. Franklin P. Hall, a World War II veteran, was finally laid to rest on Sunday back home in Leesburg, exactly 80 years after his death.

Hall was born in Leesburg on April 13, 1922, to parents Herbert and Hilda Hall.

Hall served in the 66th Bombardment Squadron, 44th Bombardment group. He was the left-wing gunner on a B-24D Liberator nicknamed the “Queen Marlene.”

On Jan. 21, 1944, during a bombing mission, the Queen Marlene was shot down by German forces. There were 10 airmen on board, including Hall, who was 21.

U.S. Army Air Force Staff Sgt. Franklin P. Hall was laid to rest Sunday in Leesburg
U.S. Army Air Force Staff Sgt. Franklin P. Hall was laid to rest Sunday in Leesburg.

Soon after the plane went down, German officers found Hall’s remains, and  interred him in a French cemetery called “Poix-de-Picardie.” Hall remained unaccounted for when the war ended. He was officially marked non-recoverable on March 1, 1951. The DPAA (Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency) historians and scientists discovered and recovered his remains on July 13, 2023, through DNA analysis, which helped find and identify it was the staff sergeant.

The funeral procession began with full military honors. First, with the 21-gun salute, followed by the missing man aerial salute; Then, the playing of Taps and, lastly, the presentation of the flag.

The funeral concluded with accolades from many prominent figures, including state Sen. Dennis Baxley and former President Donald Trump, who wrote in to honor Franklin Hall and his courageous sacrifice.

“At just 21 years old, Staff Sergeant Hall represented the very best of our great nation,” Trump wrote.

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