The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, recently accounted-for from World War II, are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Ewart T. Sconiers, 27, of DeFuniak Springs, Florida, will be buried January 27 in his hometown. On Oct. 21, 1942, Sconiers was a member of the 414th Bombardment Squadron, 97th Bombardment Group, serving as the bombardier on the B-17F Flying Fortress, during a mission to bomb the German U-boat pens at Lorient, France. During the attack, the aircraft received severe damage, but the entire crew parachuted safely, landing in water near Brest, France, where they were picked up by a French fishing vessel and turned over to German forces as prisoners of war. The Americans were sent to Dulag Luft in Oberusal, Germany, for interrogation, and on Nov. 11, 1942, Sconiers was transferred to Stalag Luft II in Sagan, Germany (present-day Zagan, Poland), where he remained until Jan. 9, 1944.
Sconiers was admitted to the camp hospital in early January after exhibiting erratic behavior and complaining of severe ear pain following a fall on ice. He was subsequently transferred to the reserve hospital in Luben, Germany (present-day Lubin, Poland), where he died on Jan. 24, 1944. Sconiers was buried by a detachment of fellow prisoners in grave number seven of the POW section of the municipal cemetery in Luben/Schleswig on Jan. 27, 1944, near the remains of five French officers.
In April 1948, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRS) conducted a field investigation in Lubin, but failed to locate Sconiers’ burial site, and were unable to find any records of deaths or burials in the area.
Between 2006 and 2015, there were multiple searches conducted to find Sconiers’ remains, with negative results, including a full excavation in Allies Park in Lubin.
In September 2015, an independent researcher identified a cross with Sconiers’ name in a French military cemetery in Gdansk, Poland.
In October 2015, DPAA requested assistance from the French Embassy in locating records related to the grave. Historical records revealed there were no French soldiers who died during WWII with the name Sconiers. Additionally, documentation revealed that several French soldiers who were reported to have died in the Lubin region were later reburied in the French Military Cemetery in Gdansk, possibly linking Sconiers to the new burial site.
In July 2016, the French Government and the Polish Council for the Protection of Struggle and Martyrdom granted DPAA permission to disinter the remains at the cemetery. In September 2016, the remains were disinterred and sent to DPAA’s Central Identification Laboratory Annex at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, for analysis.
To identify Sconiers’ remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) and DNA analysis, which matched his family, dental and anthropological analysis, which matched his records, as well as circumstantial evidence.
DPAA is grateful to the French Embassy, the French Government and the Polish Council for the Protection of Struggle and Martyrdom for their assistance in this identification.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 73,964 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Sconiers’ name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Belgium, along with the other MIAs from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil, find us on social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa or call (703) 699-1420.