Lt. Ewart T. Sconiers laid to rest on home ground

FLAG-DRAPED CASKET formally conducted to graveside honors.

Story and photos by BRUCE COLLIER

Lt. Ewart Theodore Sconiers, a decorated officer in the U.S. Army Air Corps and a native of Walton County, completed his long journey from a foreign grave to home ground this past Saturday. Seventy four years had elapsed between Sconiers’ death and burial in 1944. A bombardier on a B-17, Sconiers’ plane was shot down during a 1942 raid. He was imprisoned in a German P.O.W. camp, Stalag Luft III, in German-occupied Poland. An injury sustained while interned led to his death at the age of 28. His whereabouts remained a mystery for years, but diligent efforts by his family and a host of what came to be known as “Promise Keepers” and “Ewart’s Army” in Europe and the United States, eventually brought him home.

Honored on Jan. 26 with a procession (and motorcycle escort by the Patriot Guard) into DeFuniak Springs, Sconiers’ casket was transported to Southwide Baptist Church. On Jan. 27, a memorial service with military honors “celebrating the homecoming of Lt. Ewart Theodore Sconiers” was held, and Sconiers’ casket was laid to rest in the church cemetery.

PAMELA SCONIERS WHITELOCK is presented with the flag from her uncle’s casket by a general of the U.S. Army.

The two-hour service began in the church sanctuary, which was filled to overflow capacity. Following a musical prelude, Southwide Pastor Jeremy Lewis spoke briefly and offered a prayer. An Army chaplain spoke a eulogy, which was followed by a “Promise Keeping Tribute” by Sconiers’ niece Pamela Sconiers Whitelock, thanking the many individuals and organizations whose combined efforts located, identified, and secured Sconiers’ return to DeFuniak Springs.

Several memorial videos were shown, and Sconiers’ great-great nieces and nephews sang “You Raise Me Up.” Following a final prayer, “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes accompanied the recessional, and the casket was escorted by an honor guard to the graveside service. Following a “Missing Man” flyover by Sconiers’ modern Air Force comrades was a 21-gun salute and final spoken tributes. The flag that had draped Sconiers’ casket was formally folded and presented to Whitelock by a general of the U.S. Army.

Lt. Sconiers now rests next to his mother, Maude Spence Sconiers.