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The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that a U.S. serviceman, missing from World War II, has been identified and is being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Air Force 2nd Lt. Jimmie D. Collins III, 22, of Sylacauga, Ala., will be buried June 29, in his hometown. On June 21, 1944, Collins was the co-pilot of a B-24H Liberator that crashed near Hoofddorp, Netherlands, while returning from a bombing mission against German forces near Berlin. Also aboard the aircraft were nine other servicemen. During the crash one of the servicemen was able to parachute from the Liberator, was captured by German forces, and later returned to U.S. custody. All other servicemen, including Collins, were reported as killed in action.
After the war, analysis of captured German records revealed the remains of seven American servicemen were recovered from the crash site and buried in a cemetery in Hoofddorp. The U.S. Army Graves Registration Services (AGRS) personnel exhumed the remains, and identified the seven servicemen, leaving only Collins and the one other serviceman unaccounted for.
Between February 1946 and July 1947, the AGRS conducted investigations in the vicinity of the crash. No additional remains were recovered at that time. On Sept. 20, 1950, an Army Graves Registration Command (AGRC) review board declared the remains to be non-recoverable.
In September 1992, a brother of one of the crew visited the Netherlands to learn more about the crash, where he spoke to a third party researcher who believed remains of the missing crew men may still be present at the site.
A grave registration team from the United States Army Memorial Affairs Activity-Europe visited the possible crash site near a village in Vijfhuizen, Haarlemmermeer, Netherlands, and located large metal objects underground using metal detectors.
Due to policy within the Netherlands, a Royal Netherlands Air Force Recovery Service (RNLAF) salvage team carried out the excavation of the site in April 1997 with oversight from the Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii. They were able to recover remains and personal effects.
To identify Collins’ remains, scientists from the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools including mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which matched his aunt and uncle.
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 or call (703) 699-1420.