The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that Army Air Forces Sgt. Vernon L. Hamilton, 19, of Monongahela, Pennsylvania, killed during World War II, was accounted for on Dec. 13, 2018.
On March 21, 1945, Hamilton was a member of the 642nd Bombardment Squadron, 409th Bombardment Group, 9th Bombardment Division, 9th Air Force, aboard an A-26B, when his aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire and went missing during a combat mission from Couvron, France to Dülmen, Germany. Hamilton, his pilot, 2nd Lt. Lynn W. Hadfield, and the other crewman, Sgt. John Kalausich, had been participating in the interdiction campaign to obstruct German troop movements in preparation for the Allied crossing of the Rhine River on March 23, 1945.
After the war, the American Graves Registration Command extensively searched the area where the aircraft was believed to have crashed, however no crash sites could be positively matched with Hamilton’s aircraft.
In June 2016, a German researcher, Adolph Hagedorn, who had previously collaborated with Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, JPAC (a predecessor to DPAA) contacted DPAA historians regarding a crash site he had found in Hülsten-Reken, Germany, that could possibly be linked to Hamilton’s aircraft. In September 2016, Hagedorn led DPAA to the crash site in a horse paddock, where the aircraft matched the description of Hamilton’s.
In November and December 2016, under a partnership, History Flight, Inc., a nongovernmental organization, excavated the crash site, recovering aircraft material, life support equipment, personal effects and possible osseous material.
To identify Hamilton’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis, dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence.
DPAA is grateful to Mr. Hagedorn, the government of Germany and History Flight, Inc., for their partnership in this mission.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 72,751 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Hamilton’s name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Netherlands American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Margraten, Netherlands, along with the others missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
For family contact information, contact the Army Casualty Office at (800) 892-2490.
Hamilton will be buried April 13, 2019, in Monongahela, Pennsylvania.
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) 699-1420/1169.