Remains of 10 World War II airmen return to U.S.
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The remains of 10 U.S. airmen reported missing since their B-24 Liberator disappeared in 1944 in the South Pacific are coming home.
The Department of Defense’s POW/Missing Personnel Office announced Tuesday that the remains uncovered at a crash site in Morobe province, New Guinea, have been identified as Army Air Force 2nd Lt. Raymond A. Cooley of Leary, Texas; 2nd Lt. Dudley R. Ives of Ingleside, Texas; 2nd Lt. George E. Archer of Cushing, Okla.; 2nd Lt. Donald F. Grady of Harrisburg, Pa.; Tech. Sgt. Richard R. Sargent of North Girard, Pa.; Tech. Sgt. Steve Zayac of Cleveland; Staff Sgt. Joseph M. King of Detroit; Staff Sgt. Thomas G. Knight of Brookfield, Ill.; Staff Sgt. Norman L. Nell of Tarkio, Mo.; and Staff Sgt. Blair W. Smith of Nu Mine, Pa.
The dates and locations of funerals with full military honors for the airmen are being set by their families.
Their plane crashed on April 16, 1944, as it was returning to an aerodrome at Nadzab, New Guinea, after bombing Japanese targets near Hollandia.
The last contact with the aircraft indicated it was altering course due to bad weather and was proceeding to the aerodrome at Saidor.
In late 2001, the U.S. Embassy in Papua New Guinea notified the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command that wreckage of a World War II bomber had been found in Morobe province.
The aircraft wreckage and remains were found in a survey of the site in early 2002. An excavation of the site resulted in the recovery of identification tags of several of the missing airmen and other crew-related items.
The remains later were positively identified by using dental records and mitochondrial DNA.