The remains of a World War II soldier from Erath County will be brought home and laid to rest this September, thanks to modern DNA technology.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor drew the U.S. into war, Noel Shoup from Dublin put his college dreams on hold and enlisted with the U.S. Army Air Force with only one semester left to graduate.
On February 28, 1944, Shoup — then a first lieutenant with the 359th Bombardment Squadron and 303rd Bombardment Group — took off from Molesworth, England, in a B-17 Flying Fortress named “Miss Marooki” to strike Nazi-occupied France in a bombing raid.
Tragically, he never returned.
Miss Marooki was hit by anti-aircraft fire, spiraled out of control, and crashed. Three crewmembers survived while seven others, including Shoup, were killed.
The remains of only five of those killed were successfully identified, leaving Shoup’s family in the dark — “Missing in Action” was all the telegram notifying them of his loss said.
Lela Shoup remained hopeful that her son would be brought back to her one day, according to her granddaughter.
“Until the day she died. All her life. She never gave up. She never gave up,” Brenda Baumert, Shoup’s niece, told WFAA. “And every day from four to five o’clock, she prayed. I know my grandmother, I know she prayed ‘Dear God bring my boy home.'”
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency successfully found Shoup this April after an excavation of the Miss Marooki crash site in 2018 yielded more remains and a Dublin High School Class of 1936 ring with the initials N.E.S. engraved inside.
DNA testing helped identify and consolidate the remains, and now they are ready to be sent to Texas.
“Now here’s God, 79 years later, he’s answering her prayer. Even though she is dead, he’s answering her prayer. He is bringing her boy home,” Baumert said.
On what would have been Shoup’s 105th birthday on September 11, his family and community members will lay him to rest at the Upper Greens Creek Cemetery next to his parents.
“It brings up a lot of emotion that I did not know I had. I will admit that,” said Sandra Hammons, another of Shoup’s nieces, according to WFAA. “I was just shocked how much emotion was there, for someone that I never physically knew, you know.”
“I see this as an opportunity to let people remember how many of these young men and women gave their lives, not just in that war, but in all the wars,” Hammons added.
While modern advances in DNA technology have made the identification of remains like Shoup’s possible, there is still much to be done.
There are still an estimated 72,196 soldiers from World War II unaccounted for — over 81,000 with recent wars taken into account — meaning thousands of families like the Shoups were left without closure.
“How many parents and siblings have gone on not knowing what happened,” Hammons suggested. “We still need to pay attention to the fact these guys are still out there. And every family should be as lucky as we are.”
As reported in The Dallas Express, DNA testing has also helped shed light on several cold cases, such as the identity of a 22-year-old murder victim named Kathy Ann Smith. Her remains were uncovered 44 years ago alongside U.S. Highway 290 in Elgin, but she was only known as “Jane Doe” until recently.