Gov. Paul LePage has ordered that the flags of the United States and the state of Maine be flown at half-staff from dawn until dusk on Saturday, July 9 for the funeral of 2nd Lt. Robert Emerson of Norway. Emerson was one of five servicemen who lost his life on April 3, 1945 when their B-25J Mitchell Bomber crashed in the Philippines.

“Second Lieutenant Emerson is finally coming home,” said Gov. LePage. “He gave his life in the Pacific Theatre during World War II in defense of our nation. We normally lower the flags today to honor our sons and daughters who give their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, Robert Emerson’s sacrifice is no less meaningful. It is this long unbroken line of men and women who put on the uniform that allowed us to celebrate the 235th birthday of the United States this past Independence Day.”

Emerson’s road home began when his remains were recovered in 1947. They returned to the United States in 1949 and were sent to Missouri for review. The Department of Defense was unable to identify them and they were buried as unknowns. However, in 2008 they were exhumed and sent to Hawaii. Modern DNA techniques allowed for the remains to be indentified separately and now they are on their way back to Maine.

“The United States military does not leave its people behind,” continued LePage. “The POW/MIA flag reads, ‘You Are Not Forgotten.’ I commend our military establishment for its work in bringing Robert Emerson home. Their actions have given true meaning to the words on the flag. And to Second Lieutenant Emerson, welcome home. May you rest in peace.”

Emerson will be buried at Pine Grove Cemetery in South Paris on July 9 at 2 p.m.