Stony Brook woman reunited with remains of father killed in WWII

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STONY BROOK -

A Stony Brook woman finally has closure after a more than 70-year military mystery.

Barbara O'Brien, the daughter of 1st Lt. Robert Mains, says she has been waiting all her life for her father to return home.

"My father saw me when I was born, held me in his arms. He spent the day with me and then he had to go to war," she says.

On April 4, 1945, Mains was piloting a B-24 Liberator on a bombing mission over northern Germany when his aircraft was shot down by German fighter planes.

VIDEO: Extended interview with woman reunited with remains of father killed in WWII.

"When I was very little I just thought he was missing, that he would come home," O'Brien says.

O'Brien says she grew up loving and missing a father she never got to know.

"My faith in him is what I love. I believe in him and I just feel his presence at times and I just know he did the best he could in his life of 27 years and I'm just very proud of him," she says.

In keeping with a promise to leave no man behind, U.S. military teams conducted several search missions over decades at the site where Mains' plane crashed in Germany.

On Oct. 18 of this year, an Army major knocked on O'Brien's door. He told her that her father's bone fragments were recovered and identified by forensic scientists using DNA from his family.

On Nov. 29, a plane carrying Mains' remains arrived at MacArthur Airport. O'Brien greeted her father's casket with loving arms.

"We want to bring closure to the family. It's also part of our duty to any service member that they are returned home one final time once they give the ultimate sacrifice," says Army Major Bryan Herken.

O'Brien composed the epitaph for her father's tombstone. It reads "Loving Father Returned To Me."

Mains' name is etched on the "Tablets of the Missing" at the American Cemetery in the Netherlands. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

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