The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of eleven U.S. airmen, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors.
They are Capt. Thomas C. Paschal, El Monte, Calif.; 1st Lt. Frank P. Giugliano, New York, N.Y.; 1st Lt. James P. Gullion, Paris, Texas; 2nd Lt. Leland A. Rehmet, San Antonio, Texas; 2nd Lt. John A. Widsteen, Palo Alto, Calif., Staff Sgt. Richard F. King, Moultrie, Ga.; Staff Sgt. William Lowery, Republic, Pa..; Staff Sgt. Elgin J. Luckenbach, Luckenbach, Texas.; Staff Sgt. Marion B. May, Amarillo, Texas.; Sgt. Marshall P. Borofsky, Chicago, Ill.; Sgt. Walter G. Harm, Philadelphia, Penn.; all U.S. Army Air Forces.
The group remains of the entire crew are to be buried today at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, DC, as are the individual remains of each man with the exception of King, Giugliano and Widsteen, whose families have elected hometown burials.
On April 16, 1944, Paschal and Widsteen were piloting a B-24J Liberator with the other nine men aboard. The aircraft was returning to Nadzab, New Guinea after bombing enemy targets near Hollandia. The plane was last seen off the coast of the island flying into poor weather.
The loss was investigated following the war and a military board concluded that the aircraft had been lost over water and was unrecoverable.
In early 2001 a team of specialists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) interviewed a native of Papua New Guinea who claimed to have found the aircraft crash and recovered identification media for May and Harm. The team surveyed the site in 2002 and found wreckage that matched Paschal’s aircraft tail number along with human remains. They also took custody of remains previously collected by the villager.
Later that year, two additional JPAC teams excavated the crash site and recovered additional human remains and crew-related artifacts. Identification tags were found for Luckenbach, May and Paschal. Other crew-related materials found were consistent with items used by the Army Air Forces around 1944.
Mitochondrial DNA obtained from dental and bone samples was one of the forensic tools used by JPAC scientists and Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory specialists to identify the airmen.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO website at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703)-699-1169.