Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Family finally finds closure at plane crash site


Up the mountain three miles beyond Waterford, Dr. Ray Cohlmia of Oklahoma City took out his cellphone Saturday afternoon and called his sister, Elsie Simon in Clinton, Okla.

"Honey, we're at the site," he told her, his voice filled with emotion. "I'm here."

"Thank God," she said, and started crying.

Cohlmia, 83, finally found closure to a family tragedy that happened just short of 67 years ago. He made the phone call from a clearing in the forest at a memorial to his brother, Petty Officer George A. Cohlmia, who died with Ensign Frank J. Campbell when their U.S. Navy dive bomber crashed on Oct. 9, 1945.

The remains of the engine are still embedded in the ground.

"It's unbelievable," he told the Bulletin. "This whole excursion is beyond words."

Cohlmia, who still practices dentistry, and nine other family members flew into Pittsburgh on Friday, and the next day were taken to the remote crash site in Ligonier Township, near what's called Sugar Camp Hill. They were led by Mike Johnson of Ligonier Township, who saw articles in the Bulletin about the family's search for the crash site, and volunteered to take them. His wife, Lynn, came along to see the memorial that Johnson often spoke of.

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