ROMULUS, Mich. — The body of deserter Eddie Slovik, executed by a U.S. firing squad during World War II, was reported missing by airline officials Thursday night as it was being returned from France for burial in his native Detroit.
Slovik's body had been scheduled to arrive at Detroit Metropolitan Airport on a TWA flight from New York's Kennedy International Airport.
The flight's computer manifest indicated that the remains of the Army private were on board, but an agent said they could not be located.
'Would Be in New York'
"We've pretty much gone through all our options," said Richard Huff, a TWA air freight agent in Detroit. "If for some reason unknown that it was unloaded on the flight, it would be in New York.
"But unfortunately, New York is a large place. There's lots of places to check there," he said.
Bernard B. Calka, a Polish-American Army veteran who organized efforts to get Slovik's body returned, and Edward J. Wujek of Wujek Calcaterra Funeral Home Inc. in Sterling Heights, said Huff told them that the remains were not in Detroit.
"I've got a call in to New York," Huff said. "They're checking to see if it's still there. Freight, like baggage, sometimes gets lost.' "
Exhumed in France
The body of Slovik, the only American soldier since the Civil War to be shot for desertion, was exhumed under Army supervision Wednesday from an American military cemetery in France, Army spokeswoman Elaine Henrion said.
Burial was planned Saturday morning next to Slovik's wife, Antoinette, at a cemetery in southwest Detroit, the Macomb Daily of Mount Clemens, Mich., reported in a copyright story.
The exhumation, approved by the Defense Department, culminated efforts begun in 1981 by Calka, the newspaper said.
Slovik was 24 when he was executed in France on Jan. 31, 1945, about a year after he was drafted into the Army. He was buried with 94 other American soldiers hanged for crimes including rape and murder.