At the age of 87, Frank Cunningham of Queens figured he'd go to his grave never knowing exactly what happened to his brother George during World War II. The only solid facts he knew were these: Air Force Cpl. George Cunningham was a radioman on a C-47A cargo plane that vanished 61 years ago on a flight over New Guinea.
"After a while, you think they'll never find him," Frank Cunningham told the Daily News yesterday. Then two weeks ago, a call came out of the blue from an official at the Defense Department who said his brother's remains had been recovered and positively identified.
And some backstory on George Cunningham:
George Cunningham was born and raised in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the fourth of six children. When their mother, Alice, died from pneumonia in 1936, he dropped out of school and got a job as a truck driver to help support his family.
"I went in the Army in March of 1942, and he went in the Air Force in August 1942," said Frank Cunningham, who was a awarded a Purple Heart and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He said George, who hadn't married, was the only one of his four brothers who didn't come home from the battlefield.