After nearly 80 years of waiting, Nutley World War II hero’s remains are coming home next week

A fallen Nutley resident who was a U.S. Navy Aviation Ordnanceman and whose remains took decades to identify will be honored here next week, Commissioner John Kelly says.

First Class Anthony Di Petta’s remains will return home to Nutley on Tuesday, July 11, 2023.

Di Petta’s was killed on a World War II air strike.

A private service is scheduled for Tuesday, July 11, 2023.  At approximately 11:45 a.m., immediately following the service, a funeral procession will make a brief stop at the Nutley World War II Monument on Vincent Place. Members of the community are encouraged to assemble at the memorial to pay respects and show their support for the family and friends of Di Petta.

On Sept. 10, 1944, 24-year-old Di Petta, along with two other crew members, boarded their Avenger bomber jet, taking off from the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier to conduct air strikes against enemy targets.

Their aircraft was struck by enemy anti-aircraft fire and crashed into the waters near Malakal Island, located in the Pacific Ocean about 800 miles southwest of Guam. Recovery efforts were halted in the summer of 1947, and on July 16, 1949, Di Petta and crew were declared non-recoverable.

But not all hope was lost thanks to the marvels of modern-day science.

The crash site was located in 2015 after several years of Project Recover search missions.  In partnership with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), Project Recover found MIAs from the Avenger during their first MIA Recovery Mission in 2021.

Scientists from DPAA used dental analysis to identify Di Petta’s remains.

Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.

Di Petta’s personnel profile may be viewed at

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.