News Releases

Airman Missing From WWII Accounted For (Pile)

15-071 | November 03, 2015

The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing from World War II, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Army Air Forces 1st Lt. William O. Pile, 24, of Circleville, Ohio, will be buried Nov. 10 in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C. On Dec. 23, 1944, Pile was assigned to the 559th Bombardment Squadron, 387th Bombardment Group, 9th Air Force, and was deployed to Germany. Pile was the pilot of a B-26C Marauder, with eight other crewmen onboard, which crashed after being struck by enemy fire while on a bombing mission against enemy forces near Philippsweiler, Germany. Pile and his co-pilot, 2nd Lt. Robert Ward, were reported killed in action. The other seven crewmen survived the crash by parachuting to safety; however, one crewman was captured by enemy forces and was reported to have died in captivity. His remains were later returned to U.S. custody. Pile and Ward were not recovered during the war.

In April 2009, a Department of Defense (DoD) team traveled to Philippsweiler to interview several German locals who recalled an American war-time crash. The team surveyed the possible crash site.

Between June 2010 and July 2011, two DoD recovery teams excavated the suspected crash site, recovering human remains and aircraft wreckage.

To identify Pile’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used circumstantial evidence and exclusion by mitochondrial DNA testing on a second set of remains associated with Ward.

Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died. Today, more than 73,000 are unaccounted for from the conflict.

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.