Gov. Tomblin orders flags lowered - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Gov. Tomblin orders flags lowered

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CHARLESTON -

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin today ordered all U.S. and State flags at all state-owned facilities to be flown at half-staff from dawn until dusk, Sunday, July 21, 2013, the day of services for Sgt. Jerome Elwood Kiger.  According to a press release, the Mannington, W.Va. native enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942. Kiger was declared Missing in Action following the crash of his B-24 Liberator in Germany and, in 1945, he was declared Killed in Action though his remains and the crash site had not been located. In 2008 both Kiger's remains and the crash site were located.

"Sixty-nine years ago, Sergeant Kiger made the ultimate sacrifice for his country, and today we honor his heroic actions as his remains are returned to American soil," Gov. Tomblin said. "Joanne and I ask all West Virginians to keep the Kiger family in their thoughts this weekend. They have waited a long time for this day and we hope the honors presented, during his memorial service, are representative of our state's sincere appreciation for his dedication to our nation."

Kiger, trained as an Aerial Gunner, was deployed to serve in the European Theater as a member of the 579th Bomber Squadron, 392nd Bomber Group, Eighth Army Air Force and, through his service, attained the rank of Sergeant. On July 21, 1944, the Eighth Air Force launched targeted air raids in Germany. Kiger was a Tail Gunner on a B-24 Liberator when the plane came under heavy enemy fire and crashed southwest of Munich. Kiger was one of two airmen who were presumed aboard the aircraft when it crashed, seven other crewmen parachuted prior to the crash. Neither Kiger's remains nor the crash site were located until 2008 when a German national, Mr. Markus Mooser, contacted Sgt. Kiger's family on Nov. 23, 2008 and reported he had found a crash site in the Starnberg district of Bavaria, Germany. The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command investigated and identified Sgt. Kiger and his fellow airman's remains.

Sgt. Kiger's remains will be escorted onto American soil by an Honor Guard from Fort Meade, Md. who will provide planeside military honors. The West Virginia Patriot Guard Riders and others will stand in honor, along with Sgt. Kiger's family, and then escort him home to Mannington Memorial Park for internment. Mr. Mooser, the German national who located the crash site, will attend the service.

Sgt. Kiger was awarded the Air Medal; the American Campaign Medal; the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, with one Bronze Service Star; the World War II Victory Medal; the Aerial-Gunner Badge Wing; and the Army Service Ribbon; and will be awarded posthumously the Army Good Conduct Medal and the Purple Heart Medal.

Kiger was followed in death by his parents, Jasper Newton Kiger and Mary Pearl Kiger; his brother, Gerald M. Kiger; and his sister, Arlene Kiger Bradley. Kiger is survived by his sisters, Eva Lou Kiger Hinerman and Mary Kathryn Kiger Lewis; and extended family.