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Military service conducted for World War II pilot

Chaplain said many people worked to find Army lieutenant who crashed in 1944

By Steve Ranson Nevada News Group

“Part of the Soldiers Creed represents Army values … always place mission first. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade behind.”

Maj. Donny Crendell, chaplain for the Nevada National Guard, praised World War II pilot Lt. Lowell Twedt as a hero and member of the Greatest Generation who died on Oct. 20, 1944, when German anti-aircraft downed him and two other P-38J Lightning pilots from the 71st Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Group near Bolanzo, Italy. Twedt received full military honors Saturday at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in a time-honored tradition for a fallen warrior.

Crendell said the Army did not leave Twedt behind. The weeks and years after the pilots crashed were not forgotten. The chaplain gave thanks to the people of Bolanzo and surrounding towns, individuals, the Army and to God who all worked to recover Twedt and then bring him home.

During his eulogy, Crendell compared Twedt to the one sheep in the flock that strays, but he said it takes time and determination to find the lost one.

“We find a shepherd who has a hundred sheep and loses one of them,” Crendell described from the Bible. “Not to be content with that, he leaves the 99 saved ones in the open country with another shepherd, and he goes after the lost sheep until he finds it.”

For the family who attended the hour-long service, it may have been fate for them and others to remember Twedt days before the end of World War II on Aug. 14, 1945. Just the day before the military service, Twedt’s son, William Twedt of Reno, received the following medals earned by the lieutenant: The Purple Heart, Air Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and Silver Star attachment, World War II Victory Meal, Honorable Service Lapel Button WWII and the Army Aviator Basic Badge.

Crendell mentioned the recovery of the pilot’s bones and other material. He said a Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency team aided by Giampaolo Clerico, commandant of the Carabinieri Station in the territory near the crash site, began their search three years ago in the Italian Alps and almost eight months ago, scientists positively identified Twedt.

“It’s so interesting to me how they found the remains,” Crendell said. “I’m so intrigued about it.”

The chaplain said Twedt was an outstanding enlisted soldier who became an officer without having to earn a college degree and fought for the freedom of this country.

Patriot Guard Riders from different communities around western Nevada led the procession from Reno to the veterans’ cemetery, and honor guards from the Nevada Army National Guard and Nevada Veterans Coalition performed the ceremonial traditions associated with a military funeral. About two dozen Patriot Guard members — many of them veterans from previous wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan — steadied U.S. flags in a half circle near the pavilion.

After two members of the Nevada Guard honor team folded the U.S flag that draped Twedt’s coffin, Capt. Justin Klatt presented the flag to his son, who clutched it.

Twedt was laid to rest in the southeast section of the NNVMC.