The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that nine servicemen missing in action from World War II have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors.
They are 1st Lt. William M. Hafner, Norfolk, Va.; 2nd Lt. Arthur C. Armacost, III, Cincinnati, Ohio; 2nd Lt. David R. Eppright, Warrensburg, Mo.; 2nd Lt. Charles F. Feucht, Reynoldsburg, Ohio; Technical Sgt. Raymond S. Cisneros, San Antonio, Texas; Technical Sgt. Alfred W. Hill, Temple, Okla.; Technical Sgt. James G. Lascelles, New York, N.Y.; Staff Sgt. William C. Cameron, Los Angeles, Calif.; and Staff Sgt. Wilburn W. Rozzell, Duncan, Okla. All were members of the 63rd Bombardment Squadron, 43 Bombardment Group.
The individually-identified remains of Armacost, Cameron, Hafner and Lascelles will be buried July 19 at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C. as are the group remains representing all nine crewmen. Cisneros, Rozzell, Feucht, Eppright and Hill were buried elsewhere.
On November 4, 1943 Hafner and his crew took off in a B-24 Liberator from Dobodura, Territory of New Guinea. The men were on an armed reconnaissance mission over the Bismark Sea. A few hours into the flight Hafner sighted a convoy of Japanese ships and was told to shadow the convoy and report back. Four hours later the crew radioed from the B-24 that they had made three direct hits on the convoy and destroyed the target. That was the last radio contact with the crew.
In March 2002 a team from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) was contacted by a local government official through the U.S. Embassy. The team was exploring unrelated WW II aircraft crash sites in Papua New Guinea. The official turned over aircraft data plates, human remains and three ID tags which had been found at a crash site in Morobe Province.
During the excavation of the site in Aug.-Sept. 2003, the team recovered additional remains and personal effects including identification tags and bracelets. The remains were submitted to the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL). Specialists at JPAC and AFDIL used mitochondrial DNA as one of the forensic tools to help identify the remains of these servicemen. 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 Web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/ or call (703) 699-1169.