The Defense POW/Missing Personnel (DPMO) announced today that three servicemen missing in action from World War II have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors.
The three are 2nd Lt. Robert H. Cameron of Elkhart, Ind.; Cpl. George E. Cunningham of Rich Hill, N.Y., all U.S. Army Air Forces; and Capt. Vladimir M. Sasko, Chicago, U.S. Army Medical Corps. Cameron will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C., on Friday. Sasko was buried in December in Chicago, and final arrangements for Cunningham have yet to be confirmed.
On Dec. 10, 1944, a C-47 crewed by Cameron and Cunningham took off from Dobudura, New Guinea, on a cargo flight to Hollandia with three passengers aboard, including Sasko. Forty minutes into the flight the crew radioed a request for weather information. Another pilot in the area replied that the weather was bad, saying he was headed out to sea to avoid it. After that, there was no further contact with the Cameron crew. Search teams in the area from the Royal Australian Air Force were unsuccessful in finding the crash site.
In 1979 and 1980, search and recovery teams from the U.S. Army’s Central Identification Laboratory, Hawaii (CILHI) found the site and recovered remains subsequently identified by CILHI scientists as those of 2nd Lt. Stanley D. Campbell of Pioche, Nev., and Cpl. Carl A. Drain, hometown unknown.
In October and November 2004 a team from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) – CILHI’s successor organization – excavated the site in Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea, where they recovered human remains and personal effects of the remaining airmen.
JPAC scientists and Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory specialists used mitochondrial DNA as one of the forensic tools to help identify the remains. Laboratory analysis of dental remains also confirmed their identification.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO website and http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1169.