New Guinea MIA laid to rest

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Pacific Historian
Jun 4, 2005
Orange County, CA
I dont believe this relates to the other two threads I posted about MIA found in New Guinie.
This might be a third different incident. The other two were combat related.

There are two stories for this thread.

Origional article from 2005
12 August, 2005
Remains of Iowan missing since WWII found

The remains of a gunnery instructor from Sioux City who disappeared during a training flight over New Guinea during World War II have been found.

Staff Sgt. Walter Knudsen, 21, disappeared along with a crew of eight on Oct. 9, 1944.

Earlier this year, his older brother, Harold Knudsen, a former Marine who lives in Park Rapids, Minn., was contacted by the Defense Prisoner of War Missing Personnel Office. He said he was asked about his high school and a high school ring. His brother's class ring was used to identify his remains.

Harold Knudsen said his brother graduated from Central High School on June 5, 1941 and enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He was in New Guinea just 20 days when he disappeared, Knudsen said.

"He was like me in some respects," Harold Knudsen said. "He was very energetic and enthusiastic about being a gunnery instructor during World War II."

Knudsen and his family finally got the answers they were looking for during a July 30 briefing by military officials.

He learned his brother's crew took off on a training flight and likely crashed in the mountains of New Guinea because of fog. The plane was not shot down, Knudsen said.

Radio contact was never made with his brother and when the plane didn't arrive at its destination later that morning, a search for the plane began, but neither the plane nor the crew was found.

In Feb. 2002, a New Guinea villager found Walter Knudsen's dog tag in the dense tropical forest near the crash site. The villager returned the dog tag to the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby, where officials contacted the Army.

Officials excavated the site near where the dog tag was found in 2003 and found the plane. The remains of Walter Knudsen and his crew were identified in May of this year.

"It was very surprising and very relieving to know they had found his remains," Harold said.

He said that when his brother's remains are returned for burial, they will be wrapped in a green, wool Army blanket. On top of the blanket will be a World War II uniform decorated with medals.

The family also will receive a book of photos from the crash site taken during the recovery effort.

Knudsen said his brother will be buried next to his mother in Memorial Park Cemetery. A full military funeral will be held in few months, he said.

New one from today
At last, his brother is home from the war
Staff Sgt. Walter Knudsen's remains were found 58 years after his plane was lost in New Guinea.
Chuck Haga, Star Tribune

Staff Sgt. Walter Knudsen was a 21-year-old gunner when his B-24 Liberator bomber went down in 1944.

Harold Knudsen, 85, of Park Rapids, Minn., hasn't seen his brother in more than 60 years, but he is in Iowa today to be close to him once more.
Walter Knudsen joined the Army Air Forces during World War II and served as a gunner on a B-24 Liberator. Harold, three years older, served in the Marines as an aircraft welder.

Harold came home. Walter didn't.

"All we heard was that his plane had taken off and never returned," Harold said. "It was lost over the jungle" on Oct. 9, 1944.

In 2002, a New Guinea villager walking through the thick foliage of the rain forest found a set of dog tags. They were Walter's. The villager took the tags to officials in Port Moresby, who contacted U.S. authorities.

An MIA recovery team based in Hawaii searched the site, 11 miles southwest of Lae, New Guinea, in 2003. They eventually found the buried wreckage, recovered the remains and began trying to identify them.

Harold Knudsen provided a blood sample, and DNA testing proved that one set of remains was his brother.

Walter will be buried Saturday in Memorial Park Cemetery in Sioux City, near his parents.

"It's unbelievable -- 62 years," said Terri Knudsen, Harold's daughter, who with the help of the Iowa National Guard arranged for Saturday's memorial service and burial. "We're so blessed to have him returned to us."

She watched at the Omaha airport Tuesday as her uncle's flag-draped casket was delivered from Hawaii, accompanied by a military escort. "They stay with it 24 hours a day until he's buried," she said.

Her father wasn't there. "He said he couldn't handle it emotionally," she said.

Harold went to the cemetery Wednesday to let his parents know that Walter was coming.

"It's a great relief to have a loved one returned to our home," he said.

Harold moved to Park Rapids in 1970 and opened a laundry in the northern Minnesota town. He retired in 1985 but continues to live there.

Terri Knudsen, 57, lives in Maryland. She was born nearly five years after her uncle died.

"I never met him, but boy, did I hear incredible stories about the man," she said. "He was so young, just 21. And look at the amount of responsibility he had at 19 and 20, when he was promoted to staff sergeant and was training gunners."

The brothers were close, she said. "They shared a bedroom, and they did everything together. They helped support the family during the Depression, delivering papers."

"My uncle had wavy blond hair and was Hollywood handsome," Terri Knudsen said. "His crewmates on the B-24 called him 'Daisy.' "
I found this at the army air forces website.

Attached is a picture of the plane itself. This was also from, member Al Green supplying it.

The family of Staff Sgt. Walter Knudsen, a World War II B-24 gunnery
instructor from Sioux City who was killed when his plane went down
61 years ago, finally learned on March 16 the official details of
the crash.
On the morning of Oct. 9, 1944, Knudsen took off on his first
training flight from Nadzab, New Guinea, along with a crew of eight,
and never returned.
In February 2002, a New Guinea villager found Knudsen's lone dog
tag, which was hidden in the dense tropical vegetation near the
crash site in the mountains of Lae. The villager traveled the rugged
mountain terrain and countryside, around 200 miles, to Port Moresby
to return Knudsen's dog tag to the U.S. Embassy, which in turn
contacted the U.S. Army. The lone dog tag led to the excavation of
the plane in January 2003 and the identification of eight of the
nine crew members' bodies in May 2005.

At the Park Rapids, Minn., home of Harold Knudsen, Walter's brother,
military personnel from U.S. Army Casualty and Memorial Affairs
presented the U.S. Army's final report and returned Walter's
identification bracelet and dog tags to the family.
Harold 's daughter, Terri Knudsen, told about the final briefing in
a telephone interview this week.
"It was so well done, so compassionate and so overwhelming," she
said of the three-hour briefing which was conducted by Paul Bethke,
a former commander of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and the
Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office. Bethke was the
first person from the military to view the crash site.
Using photos and maps, Terri said Bethke brought the scene to life.
Bethke told the family that Walter's plane headed nose first into a
tri-canopy area of the mountainside 11 miles southwest of Lae
because of the heavy cloud line enveloping the mountain.
The plane burst into flames upon impact. The fire may have reached
temperatures of 800 degrees centigrade and much of the plane melted
and turned into amalgam. However, the plane's four engines, wings,
tail and a portion of the fuselage remained.
Although the plane landed in the middle of the search area, the
wreckage was confined to a 680-square-foot area that was densely
covered by jungle. The wreckage remained hidden until the villager
stumbled upon Walter's dog tag, which led to the excavation of the
Terri said much of the crash site had been "washed down" from heavy
rain. The area receives up to 50 feet of rain per year.
Forty-five people, including New Guinea villagers, participated in
the excavation process, sifting through soil for remains and
personal artifacts.
According to Terri, bones that were found were broken several times,
revealing the traumatic impact of the crash. A portion of the
remains was also burned.
Five of Walter's bones, two dog tags, a necklace and a silver ID
bracelet were recovered from the wreckage. Terri said one of
Walter's dog tags was scorched and bent. These artifacts were
instrumental in determining Walter's identity. The DNA was extracted
from Walter's remains and compared with a sample taken from his
brother Harold. According to Terri, Bethke showed in detail how
Walter's DNA was a match for match item with her father's.
After the presentation of evidence Harold was asked whether he
believed the remains found were those of his brother. He agreed and
signed a document saying he would not contest the findings.
Harold was then given his brother's dog tags, necklace and ID
bracelet. Terri said her father sat silent, taking in the moment.
After 61 years his questions had finally been answered.
Terri said she would encourage military families, no matter how long
it takes, to continue looking for their loved ones who are missing,
as she and her family did.
"I want a lot of people to know they should not give up hope," she
Nearly 79,000 U.S. World War II servicemen remain unaccounted for,
with 35,000 "deemed recoverable" and the others lost at sea or
entombed in sunken vessels.
The Knudsens are planning a full military funeral for Walter at 1
p.m. April 22 at Memorial Park Cemetery in Sioux City. Walter will
be buried next to his mother Hanna Knox. During the ceremony Harold
will be presented with a flag adorned with four medals that have
been awarded to Walter, including the bronze service star award.
The Knudsens also will travel to Washington, D.C. for a full
military funeral in June, where the remains that could not be
identified as belonging to any one of the nine crew members will be
laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery


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