Skip to main content

U.S. officials identify remains of 11 missing WW II airmen

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Remains of 11 U.S. airmen found in Papua New Guinea identified
  • Crew had been missing since 1943; remains were recovered in 2004
  • First serviceman to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday

(CNN) -- The U.S. Department of Defense on Thursday identified remains discovered in the South Pacific seven years ago as those of 11 airmen who had been missing since World War II.

The remains of Army Air Force Tech. Sgt. Charles A. Bode of Baltimore are to be buried Friday at Arlington National Cemetery. Bode was 23 when he was declared missing. A second burial service for the remaining 10 servicemen is scheduled to take place at the same site March 24.

The 11 servicemen had been missing since November 20, 1943, after the crew's B-24D Liberator left an airbase in Port Moresby, New Guinea. The crew was 20 miles north of the airfield when ground control lost contact with the plane.

Searches for the craft and its crew were unsuccessful, and in 1949, the missing servicemen were declared unrecoverable.

In 1984, U.S. officials were notified of the discovery of a World War II crash site in a ravine in the Morobe Province of Papua New Guinea. However, the threat of landslides prevented the recovery of the craft and remains. Twenty years later, search teams obtained human remains collected by local villagers.

The other crew members whose remains have been identified are: 1st Lt. Richard T. Heuss, 23, of Berkley, Michigan; 2nd Lt. Robert A. Miller, 22, of Memphis, Tennessee; 2nd Lt. Edward R. French, 23, of Erie, Pennsylvania; 2nd Lt. Robert R. Streckenbach Jr., 21, of Green Bay, Wisconsin; Tech. Sgt. Lucian I. Oliver, Jr., 23, of Memphis; Staff Sgt. Ivan O. Kirkpatrick, 36, of Whittier, California; Staff Sgt. William K. Musgrave, 24, of Hutsonville, Illinois; Staff Sgt. James T. Moran, 21, of Sloatsburg, New York; Staff Sgt. James B. Moore, 21, of Woburn, Massachusetts; and Staff Sgt. Roy Surabian, 24, of Medford, Massachusetts.