Memorial ceremony held for Capt. Albert Schlegel

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - One of the Mighty Eighth's Flying Aces killed more than 70 years ago has finally returned home.

Captain Albert L. Schlegel's remains were presented in the Air Force Museum Chapel Wednesday.

"This is not an unhappy day, it's a day of closure. It's not a sad day," said Col. Perry Nuhn, (RET.)

A story in need of an ending for more than 70 years.

"All the grief is basically gone, it's not all gone, but it's pretty much gone," said Nuhn.

Captain Albert L. Schlegel, Smiley - as those close to the Airman called him - was killed by the Germans back in 1944. However, his remains weren't positively identified until 2016.

"This is a very rare case," said Carla Smith.

Smith is a funeral director for Anderson Funeral Home. With uncommon bearings, such as this, her staff does everything possible to take care of the family's needs.

Even so, this symbolic celebration holds special meanings for Quilliian Mercer, whose son stood the side of Captain Schlegel's remain, in hopes of one day joining the Air Force.

"There could not be any more honor than to see my 15-year-old (son) be able to stand there. Seeing him standing at attentions, seeing him carrying that casket, overwhelming for a father," said Mercer.

Captain Schlegel earned the nickname "The Ace of Cleveland" because of his skill as a fighter pilot.

"That they had a forbearer that was significant to the era and World War II," said Col. Nuhn.

Captain Schlegel will be buried Thursday at Beaufort National Cemetery. The service begins at 10 a.m.

"At Arlington, it's a quick ceremony and a quick drop and then you're out of there, and I'm a docent here at the Eighth Air Force museum, and I knew this was the place to have a memorial ceremony, and then we'll put him in the National Cemetery up in Beaufort," said Col. Nuhn.

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