Friday, August 24, 2012

Missing WWII Airman Identified

Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. John E. Hogan, of West Plains, Mo., will be buried today, Aug. 24, in Arlington National Cemetery. On Sept. 13, 1944, Hogan and eight other crew members were on a B-17G Flying Fortress that crashed near Neustädt-on-Werra, Germany. Only one of the crewmen is known to have successfully parachuted out of the aircraft before in crashed. The remaining eight crewmen were buried by German forces in a cemetery in Neustädt. Following the war, U.S. Army Graves Registration personnel attempted to recover the remains of the eight men, but were only able to move the remains of one man to a U.S. military cemetery in Holland.

In 1953, with access to eastern Germany restricted by the Soviet Union, the remains of the seven unaccounted for crewmen were declared non-recoverable. In 1991, a German national who was digging a grave in the cemetery in Neustädt, discovered a metal U.S. military identification tag and notified officials. Due to German burial law, Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) wasn't granted access to the site until 2007 and excavated the location in 2008. The team recovered human remains and additional metal identification tags from three of the crewmembers. Scientists from JPAC used forensic identification tools, circumstantial evidence and mitochondrial DNA – which matched that of Hogan's cousin – in the identification of his remains. At the end of the war, the U.S. government was unable to recover and identify approximately 79,000 Americans. Today, more than 73,000 are unaccounted for from the conflict.