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Welcome home, Lt. Horrigan

After 77 years, First Lt. Richard Horrigan is finally home.

Horrigan, a World War II fighter pilot and Chester native, was lost in April 1945 during an armed reconnaissance mission over Germany. According to reports, his P-47D Thunderbolt fighter crashed after taking enemy fire over what was then called the Alt Lonnewitz Airfield on April 19.

Because of conditions both during and after the war, Horrigan’s remains could not be retrieved for several decades. The aircraft was located as part of an investigation in the area in 2017, with an excavation discovering his remains in 2019.

There is always sadness when a member of our military is prevented from returning home, especially when there are so many unanswered questions. Thankfully, those questions now have answers, and a native son of Hancock County has returned home.

A private service for family members will be held Sunday in Chester, and then Horrigan will be given a hero’s procession through his hometown, to finally be laid to rest with his wife at Locust Hill Cemetery, where he will receive full military honors.

Yellow ribbons will be hanging along Carolina Avenue, with American flags flying high and residents lining the streets. It is a welcome we wish could have happened under different circumstances, but one we are grateful to see.

It’s a fitting end for a journey that was made possible through the efforts of History Flight Inc., the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and many others who were involved in the recovery of Horrigan, who will finally return to his home.

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