Who was the Missing Airman from Ramer?


By Ashley Thompson

 The remains of a 21-year-old staff sergeant who went missing during World War II have just recently been identified and he's from Ramer. Now those who live in the small town want to find out who he is. 

The Department of Defense Missing Personnel Office recently announced that the remains of a missing World War II staff sergeant have been identified, decades after the serviceman went missing. 21-year-old Gerald Atkinson was killed when the aircraft he was in crashed after being attacked by German jets.

Atkinson was from Ramer, a town of about 1500 people. Diane Griffin has been a librarian in Ramer for 34 years and says now, everyone there is trying to figure out who the serviceman was. 

"Everybody I called was like well, let me call this person, let me call that person because you know just to find somebody from Ramer, that was just enough by itself. I immediately got on the phone and started calling everyone to see." 

One of the people Griffin called was Floyd Hicks, another World War II veteran living in Ramer. 

"If he was 21, I should know him," he says.

Hicks left home when he was a teenager to join the Fleet Marine Force. He says in the 1940s, everybody knew everybody in Ramer but he tells us he doesn't remember Atkinson.

"I was born in '24. Well I would have been right about the same age as he is.  We knew everybody. I mean everybody that lived in and around Ramer."

Atkinson continues to be somewhat of a mystery man in Ramer, with community members calling each other to ask about him. But Hicks says it wasn't unusual for serviceman to go missing during the war. 

"There was, I don't know how many there was from around here," he says. "I can't even remember but some of them came back and some of them didn't. "

Gerald Atkinson will be buried tomorrow in Chattahoochee, Florida where some of his relatives now live. 

Scientists used DNA and circumstantial evidence to identify Atkinson. 

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