The 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 J. Gray, Jr., 21, of Kirkland, Washington, will be buried July 14 in Kent, Washington. On April 16, 1945, Gray was a member of the 391st Fighter Squadron, 366th Fighter Group and was the pilot of a single seat P-47D aircraft on a dive-bombing mission in the vicinity of Lindau, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany. His flight leader reported that after Gray strafed a truck, the left wing of his aircraft dipped into the trees, causing it to crash.
In October 1948, American Graves Registration Command (AGRC) investigators located the crash site and were able to correlate the site to Gray’s aircraft based on the serial numbers of four machine guns recovered at the site, which matched four machine guns on Gray’s aircraft. However, Gray’s remains were not recovered.
During investigations conducted in the Lindau area during a 2012 field investigation, personnel from predecessor organizations of DPAA received leads about Gray’s loss. Based on information gathered during eyewitness interviews and local research, investigators recommended excavation of the Lindau site for the possible remains of Gray.
In April 2016, a DPAA recovery team excavated the crash site and recovered possible human remains. The remains were sent to the DPAA laboratory for analysis.
To identify Gray’s remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis, which matched his records, as well as historical research and analysis.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 73,051 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II.
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.