The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of four U.S. servicemen, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and returned to their families for burial with full military honors.
They are 1st Lt. Robert H. Miller, of Providence, R.I.; 2nd Lt. Robert L. Hale, of Newtonville, Mass.; Staff Sgt. Joseph A. Berube, of Fall River, Mass.; and Staff Sgt. Glendon E. Harris, of North Monmouth, Maine; all U.S. Army Air Forces. Miller, Hale and Berube were buried last month and Harris’ burial is being set by his family.
On Oct. 24, 1943, a B-25D-1 Mitchell bomber crewed by these airmen departed Oro Bay Airfield in New Guinea on a bombing run of enemy targets in Rabaul. As the aircraft neared its target, it was attacked by Japanese fighter aircraft. Crewmen from other aircraft said they saw the B-25 crash near a plantation at Kabanga Point. There were no survivors.
In 1946 and 1947, Australian War Graves search teams recovered some of the crew’s remains from the crash site. Identifications were not possible at the time and the remains were ultimately buried at the Manila American Military Cemetery in the Philippines.
From 1999-2000, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) led a joint U.S. and Papua New Guinea (P.N.G.) investigation and excavation of a WWII-era crash site in East New Britain Province. One joint team interviewed individuals having information on the crash, including an eyewitness who said he saw the B-25 crash near his village. Another individual found and buried human remains at the crash site in the mid 1990s. The team surveyed the site and found aircraft wreckage, human remains and personal effects. A second joint team excavated the site and recovered additional human remains and crew-related artifacts from the wreckage field.
In 2004, an anthropologist from JPAC’s Central Identification Laboratory (CIL) exhumed the graves at the Manila American Military Cemetery where he recovered the remains buried there in the 1940s.
Among dental records, other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used mitochondrial DNA in the identification of the remains.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO Web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo
or call (703) 699-1169.