Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America

JWV Honors the Memory of Major Irwin S. Lerner at His Burial

Winter 2004

The preamble to the National Constitution of the Jewish War Veterans of the USA (JWV) binds its members "to preserve the memories and record of patriotic service performed by the men and women of our faith; to honor their memory and shield from neglect the graves of our heroic dead." In solemn testimony to these values, a delegation from the JWV, led by PNC Bob Zweiman and JWV members from Maryland together with national staff members, marched behind the caisson carrying the remains of Major Irwin S. Lerner, as he was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on January 16, 2004. The JWV was honored to participate in the service bidding farewell to an American hero who was finally laid to rest more than three decades after his death. Major Lerner had been an electronic warfare officer on a B-52 that went down over Hanoi in December 1972. His status remained a mystery, and he was considered an MIA. Remains discovered in 1985 were finally identified as those of Major Lerner in December 2003 through mitochondrial DNA analysis. The identification was made possible through the efforts of a genealogist who was able to locate relatives of Major Lerner's mother, who contributed the blood samples necessary for the DNA analysis. With a positive identification finally made, Major Lerner was able to be brought to his final resting place in Arlington Cemetery and be buried alongside his wife, Roberta, who had died in 1995 never knowing the fate of her husband. Major Lerner's three children, Mark, David, and Jennifer, and their extended families attended the service. The JWV was privileged to be joined by the National League of Families, and the Vietnam Veterans of America and Rolling Thunder, each of whom retired his MIA bracelet onto his casket and saluted their fellow Vietnam veteran at the service. The JWV salutes Major Lerner's memory and honors his service.


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