A Hero’s Welcome: Body of WWII POW set to return to Tri-Cities

Published 9:30 am Tuesday, July 12, 2016

After serving his country honorably during World War II, U.S. Army Air Forces Private Evans E. Overbey is receiving the proper treatment for a military burial in Tennessee.
Overbey’s parents were originally from Elizabethton, but the couple moved to Coeburn, Va., prior to his birth. After passing away during combat in the Pacific, the veteran’s remains will be brought back to the area this morning at Tri-Cities Airport. Once the plane arrives at 8:10 p.m., Overbey will be on his final mission.
“He will return to the area tomorrow,” Phillip Erwin, Evans’ grandnephew, said Monday. “Once he arrives, he will be transported to Valley Funeral Home in Erwin with a service open to the public Thursday.”
Overbey’s remains will be transported from Blountville to Erwin with Rolling Thunder and the Tennessee Highway Patrol leading the charge.
“It’s been outstanding,” Erwin said of the support. “We appreciate everyone coming out to support and the military for continuing to recover the remains of veterans from WWII.”
Overbey’s open service will be held at Valley Funeral Home Thursday with the event running from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The veteran will be buried on Friday with services scheduled for 2:30 p.m. at Mountain Home National Cemetery in Johnson City.
Phillip, who resides in Erwin, noted that his mother was the main reason to spearhead the search of Overbey — being his oldest living relative.
“We wanted to ensure he had the proper burial,” Phillip said. “My mother and myself didn’t know too much about his history until we heard from the Army.”
On Dec. 8, 1941, Overbey was assigned to the 19th Bombardment Group at Clark in the Philippines. Following up the Japanese invasion of the country, Overbey, along with the American and Filipino infantry units that were captured, were put on the torturous 65-mile “Bataan Death March” before being imprisoned at Camp O’Donnell.
Due to an excessive death rate and overcrowding, Overbey and other prisoners of war were transferred to Camp Cabanatuan.
Over 2,800 POWs perished at the camp throughout the remainder of the war, according to the Defense POW/MIA Account Agency. On Nov. 19, 1942, 14 Americans, including Overbey, were reported to have died and were buried by fellow prisoners in the Common Grave 717 in Cabanatuan Camp #3 Cemetery.
Overbey survived for over 160 days while captured, Erwin said. The private was 25 years old when he passed away.

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