Five USAAF MIA airmen identified.

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Pacific Historian
Jun 4, 2005
Orange County, CA
Five Missing WWII Airmen are Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office
(DPMO) announced today that the remains of five U.S. servicemen,
missing from World War II, have been identified and are being
returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

They are 1st Lt. Cecil W. Biggs, of Teague, Texas; 1st
Lt. William L. Pearce, of San Antonio, Texas; 2nd Lt. Thomas R.
Yenner, of Kingston, Pa.; Tech. Sgt. Russell W. Abendschoen of York,
Pa.; and Staff Sgt. George G. Herbst of Brooklyn, N.Y.; all U.S. Army
Air Forces. Pearce was buried April 27 in Louisville, Ky.; Herbst
will be buried June 8 at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington,
D.C.; Biggs will be buried June 9 in Teague, Texas; Abendschoen' s
funeral is June 13 at Arlington; and Yenner will be buried July 30 at

Representatives from the Army met with the next-of-kin of
these men in their hometowns to explain the recovery and
identification process and to coordinate interment with military
honors on behalf of the secretary of the Army.

On Sept. 21, 1944, a C-47A Skytrain crewed by these
airmen was delivering Polish paratroopers to a drop zone south of
Arnhem, Holland, in support of "Operation Market Garden." Soon after
departing the drop zone, the plane crashed and there were no
survivors. The Germans opened the dikes in the region where the plane
crashed and flooded the area before any remains could be recovered.

When Dutch citizens returned to their homes in Arnhem the
next year, they recovered remains from the Skytrain's wreckage and
buried them in a nearby cemetery. A U.S. Army graves registration
team later disinterred the remains which were reburied as group
remains in 1950 at the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Kentucky.

In 1994, a Dutch citizen located more human remains and
other crew-related materials at a site associated with this C-47
crash. They were eventually turned over to U.S. officials.

Among dental records, other forensic identification tools
and circumstantial evidence, scientists from the Joint POW/MIA
Accounting Command and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory
also used mitochondrial DNA in the identification of the remains of
these five men. The remains that could not be attributed to a
specific individual have been buried with the first set of group
remains at the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery.
I ran into a guy who works in the Pentagon's MIA office while doing some other research at the US National Archives at College Park, MD (It's where most of the US Govt archives relating to WWII are kept.)

He told me some of the efforts they go through to track down the final resting places of those who didn't make it back from all the wars.

Can any of the German members comment on the German agency responsible for the missing WWII vets? I recall reading something on it, its mission, and the hundreds of thousands of guys who just disappeared both during the war and after into the Soviet Union and have never been found.

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