Remains of fallen WWII airman returned to family for burial
SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — The remains of a U.S. airman who died during a World War II bomber crash over Germany have been identified and returned to his family, the Defense Department announced Wednesday.
Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. John Hogan of West Plains, Mo., was to be buried Friday at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors, according to a Defense Department statement.
Hogan and eight other crewmembers were on a bombing run to take out German oil refineries on Sept. 13, 1944, when their B-17G Flying Fortress was hit by enemy fire and crashed near Neustädt an der Werra, according to the statement and a June report in the Chicago Tribune. One crewman was known to have parachuted out. The other eight were buried by German forces in a cemetery in where the plane went down.
Following the war, U.S. Army Graves Registration personnel were only able to move the remains of one crewman to a U.S. military cemetery in Holland, the statement said. In 1953, the rest of the crew was deemed “non-recoverable” due to restricted access to East Germany by the Soviet Union.
In 1991, a German citizen digging a grave in the cemetery found a metal U.S. military identification tag and notified officials, the statement said. German burial law restricted further site investigation until 2007, when a team from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command surveyed the area. During excavation a year later, the team recovered human remains, military equipment and the IDs from three crewmembers.
Accounting Command and Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory scientists used circumstantial evidence and matched mitochondrial DNA to Hogan’s cousin to make the identification. In June, another airman from the crash, Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Emil T. Wasilewski of Chicago, was identified, repatriated and buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Today, more than 73,000 U.S. servicemembers remain unaccounted for from the conflict.