WASHINGTON - The remains of 10 U.S. Airmen, missing in action since a World War II mission over New Guinea, have been identified and will be returned to their families for burial, the Pentagon said Monday.
A B-24 Liberator with the Airmen was returning to the aerodrome at Nadzab, New Guinea, after bombing enemy targets near Hollandia on April 16, 1944. The aircraft altered course because of bad weather and was flying to the aerodrome at Saidor when it disappeared, the Defense Department said in a statement.
Wreckage of a World War II-era bomber was found in Morobe Province in New Guinea in 2001, according to the Defense Department's Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office. A team from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command surveyed the site in 2002 and recovered remains as well as identification tags and other objects.
Scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used dental records, mitochondrial DNA and other tools to identify the remains.
Army officials have met with the Airmen's next-of-kin to discuss the recovery and identification process and to coordinate burial with military honors, the Pentagon said.
The Airmen were identified as:
-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, Mich.
-Staff Sgt. Thomas G. Knight, of Brookfield, Ill.
-Staff Sgt. Norman L. Nell, of Tarkio, Mo.
-Staff Sgt. Blair W. Smith, of Nu Mine, Pa.