Julie Robinson, the pensioner teacher heard many stories about George Lenon Owens Junior, the uncle she never met. She was surprised to find a box full of documents and photographs in her mother’s attic in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. She set forth on a path to find out about him, and ended up in Hungary, reports dailyadvance.com.
Robinson said she was always fascinated by her uncle’s life, about which she heard from her family members. Her uncle’s name was 2nd Lt. George Lenon Owens, Jr. and he died on April 13, 1944 while serving in World War II. Robinson decided to find out more about him after reading his letters, which made her feel much closed to him than before.
Owens played football for Elizabeth City High School and was employed by Quinn Furniture Company after he graduated. He was also said to be very handsome.
He wanted to be a pilot and volunteered to enter the service in his early 20s.
Robinson started doing research after reading the letters and learnt that “Owens was in the 461st Bomb Group and the 766th Bomb Squadron of the 15th Air Force, and his aircraft was a B-24 H Liberator.” She also found out the names of the men who flew with him on his last mission.
The bombing target for the mission was the Duna Tokol Aircraft Components Factory near Budapest, Hungary. He was among a group of planes bombing the factory, and “as flak from the ground hit the plane flying beside him it broke apart and actually hit her uncle’s plane.” He died instantly, although Julie’s grandparents were informed about this several months later. Until then they were hoping that Owens was among the soldiers who managed to parachute out of the airplane in time and is held as prisoner of war, though their own letters they sent to him were all returned.
Everyone else survived, except for Owens and the pilot.
During her research, Robinson found a video of a plane engine being unearthed in a farmer’s field in Kiskunlachaza, Hungary. She was immediately sure it was the engine from her uncle’s plane.
In September, with her husband, they decided to travel to Hungary. They met up with Károly Magó (team leader in the Hungarian Aviation Archeology Association and a Warrant Officer in the Hungarian Army), Ákos Rozsos (team member of the Hungarian Aviation Archeology Association), and Nándor Mohos (an amateur aviation historian and translator). Here Robinson found out that the engine found in Kiskunlacháza actually belonged to the aircraft which hit her uncle’s plane, and is now exhibited in Szolnok, in the Reptér Museum.
Then the three Hungarian helpers took Julie to Délegyháza, where her uncle’s plane probably went down.
“When I got to the field it was so emotional,” said Robinson. “If they find more in the field, I would love to go back and meet with them, because I am so impressed with what they do” said Julie about the Hungarian specialists who selflessly helped her.
Robinson finished the story: “I just want to make sure that the sacrifices of our men and women and their families are not forgotten.”