Army Air Forces Capt. Fulton Lanier was 27 years old when the C-87 aircraft he was on board crashed near Tibet during a flight from Kumming, China, to Jorhat, India — a notorious route known as “The Hump” because of the dangerous Himalayan Mountains that lined the path.
A year earlier, Lanier — a World War II veteran who served in Asia — was promoted to captain from first lieutenant. Two years after the crash, the Army issuing a Finding of Death report on Lanier and his entire crew in 1946. The plane’s wreckage — along with Capt. Lanier’s meal card — was discovered in the mid-1990s. DNA testing identified all of the crew members except Lanier, and a group burial was performed at Arlington National Cemetery.
Additional remains — well preserved in the high altitude — were located near the crash site in 2015, and Lanier was finally identified.
Those remains found their final resting place Thursday at Harnett Memorial Park in Lillington on a 92-degree day, far warmer than the crash site where Lanier had rested for 73 years.
Lanier, a native of Buies Creek, was buried with full military honors surrounded by family and descendants, flag-carrying veterans who circled the gravesite during the ceremony and a group of Chinese-American citizens from North Carolina. After a 21-gun salute and the playing of “Taps,” the flag that draped Lanier’s coffin was presented to his niece, Virginia Lanier Powers.