CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Larry Mayfield waited patiently for the important arrival of Southwest Flight 31.
Moments began to feel like years. And that’s perfectly appropriate for a hero’s homecoming that should have happened 77 years ago.
During WWII, Sergeant Herald Ray Boyd — a native of San Patricio County — was a gunner assigned to 350th Bombardment Squadron, 100th Bombardment Group (Heavy), and 8th Air Force in the European Theater.
On Feb. 3, 1945, while conducting a bombing raid over Berlin, Germany, Boyd was killed in action.
Boyd’s bomber was one of 21 B-17s lost during a mission that day.
Witnesses from other aircraft said the bomber had been struck by a ground rocket immediately after dropping its bombs.
They said the pilot tried to save the plane, but he was unsuccessful, and it crashed in a residential area of Berlin.
Seven of the nine crew members were killed. The other two were captured and became prisoners of war.
One of the surviving crew members confirmed Boyd had been killed in the crash, and the War Department issued a report of death on Jan. 12, 1946.
After years of not knowing his whereabouts, Boyd’s remains were finally matched positively with DNA samples given by Mayfield and another relative on June 8 this year.
And now, almost eight decades after Sergeant Boyd’s death, his remains arrived Friday at about 5:30 p.m. at Corpus Christi International Airport.
17 family members, including his nephew Larry Mayfield, were there to greet him. Not one of them were even alive when Sergeant Boyd died in combat.
An American flag draped Boyd’s casket, as an Army Honor Guard escorted his body off the plane and carried it into an awaiting hearse.
From there, a procession for Sergeant Boyd traveled to Resthaven Funeral Home.
Funeral services are scheduled for Monday, Sept. 12 at 10 a.m., followed by a burial with military honors at the Coastal Bend State Veterans Cemetery at 1 p.m.