April 12, 2005

In Honor of our Veterans...

(This message is generated from DODNews)

WWII Missing in Action Serviceman Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of an Army Air Forces crewman have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with military honors.

Staff Sgt. Robert W. McKee of Garvey, Calif., will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery April 12.

On Dec. 17, 1944, McKee was an aerial gunner on an 11-member crew of a B-24L Liberator that took off from Pantanella, Italy, on a mission to bomb enemy targets near Blechhammer, Germany. The aircraft crashed over Hungary, near the small towns of Böhönye and Felsosegesd, with the loss of two crewmen including McKee. The other nine were able to safely parachute from the aircraft. Following the war, the remains of the other unaccounted-for crewman were found in a cemetery in Felsosegesd.

Following the war, remains from an American aircraft crash near Vienna, Austria, were found buried with McKee's military identification tag. But the remains were identified as those of another flyer. Further analysis revealed that McKee had flown on the same plane and had lost his identification tag, most likely on that aircraft.

In 1992 an undertaker recovered remains believed to be those of an American in the Böhönye, Hungary, cemetery but they could not be associated with a specific incident. DPMO analysts obtained information from a Hungarian researcher which indicated that the remains might be associated with McKee's loss. Aerial gunner's wings were found in the grave, as well as other items worn by U.S. bomber crews in 1944.

Scientists of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used a number of forensic tools including mitochondrial DNA to confirm McKee's identity, matching his DNA with that of two known maternal relatives.

Of the 88,000 Americans missing from all conflicts, 78,000 are from World War II.

For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1169.

(I am a member of an online genealogy project and this news post is automatically sent to one of the e-lists I subscribe to. I posted it to my blog as a reminder of the service to our country by the hundreds of thousands of men and women who have died to preserve my freedom and liberty. I also was amazed at the statistic that of the 88,000 American's listed as missing in action, 78,000 are from WWII. Thank you to those who lost family members and who have current brothers, sisters, moms, dads, and cousins serving in Iraq and Afghantistan currently.)