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Remains of 11 U.S. airmen recovered

Feb. 10, 2011 at 10:14 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- The remains of 11 U.S. servicemen missing in action in the Pacific Theater during World War II have been identified, the Defense Department said Thursday.

The remains are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors, the Pentagon said in a news release.

Army Air Forces Technical Sgt. Charles A. Bode, 23, Baltimore, will be buried Friday in Arlington National Cemetery.

A group burial for Bode and his 10 comrades will be March 24 at Arlington National Cemetery. The other crew members whose remains have been recovered are those of: 1st Lt. Richard T. Heuss, 23, Berkley, Mich.; 2nd Lt. Robert A. Miller, 22, Memphis, Tenn.; 2nd Lt. Edward R. French, 23, Erie, Pa.; 2nd Lt. Robert R. Streckenbach Jr., 21, Green Bay, Wis.; Tech. Sgt. Lucian I. Oliver Jr., 23, Memphis, Tenn.; Staff Sgt. Ivan O. Kirkpatrick, 36, Whittier, Calif.; Staff Sgt. William K. Musgrave, 24, Hutsonville, Ill.; Staff Sgt. James T. Moran, 21, Sloatsburg, N.Y.; Staff Sgt. James B. Moore, 21, Woburn, Mass.; and Staff Sgt. Roy Surabian, 24, Medford, Mass.

The Defense Department said in a release that on Nov. 20, 1943, the 11 B-24D Liberator crew members took off from Jackson Airfield, Port Moresby, New Guinea, on an over-water mission near the northern coast of the country. During the mission, their only radio transmission indicated they were 20 miles northwest of Port Moresby, but they did not make it back to their base. Subsequent searches failed to produce any evidence of the crew or their aircraft.

In 1984, the government of Papua New Guinea notified U.S. officials of a World War II crash site in a ravine in Morobe province. A subsequent search located B-24 aircraft wreckage and human remains but time constraints and the threat of landslides prevented their recovery.

During a site visit in 2004, local villagers turned over human remains they had previously removed from the areas. Those remains were used to identify Bode.

There are still more than 74,000 Americans listed as missing in action from the war.

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