The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of five U.S. servicemen, accounted-for from World War II, are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors.
They are: Tech Sgt. John F. Brady, 26, of Taunton, Massachusetts; Tech Sgt. Allen A. Chandler, Jr., 23, of Fletcher, Oklahoma; 1st Lt. John H. Liekhus, 29, of Anaheim, California; Staff Sgt. Robert O. Shoemaker, 23, of Takoma Park, Maryland; and Staff Sgt. Bobby J. Younger, 19, of McKinney, Texas, all U.S. Army Air Forces, accounted for on Aug. 10, 2017. These men will be buried as a group June 27 in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C.
On Nov. 2, 1944, the Airmen were members of the 323rd Bombardment Squadron, 91st Bombardment Group (Heavy), Eighth Air Force. Their nine-man aircrew was on a mission to Merseburg, Germany, when their plane was hit by flak during the bomb run. As the B-17 fell out of formation, German fighters attacked. Witnesses reported seeing the aircraft burst into flames and descend rapidly. It crashed two kilometers southwest of the town of Barby. Three crewmembers survived and were taken as prisoners of war. One airman who was killed was identified in May 1945. Brady, Chandler, Liekhus, Shoemaker and Younger were all declared missing in action. In January 1951, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC) concluded that the five unaccounted-for crew members perished in the crash and the location of their remains was unknown.
Department of Defense historians and analysts, aided by German researchers and local government officials, located a potential crash site associated with their loss. Recovery operations were conducted from June to September 2015. Recovery teams found osseous remains, material evidence and aircraft wreckage.
DPAA returned to the crash site in April and May 2016, locating additional osseous remains, material evidence and aircraft wreckage, consolidating them with the evidence from the previous operations.
Three of the crew, Brady, Shoemaker and Younger, were able to be individually identified through mitochondrial DNA analysis, forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence. The remains that could not be individually identified represented the entire crew.
DPAA is grateful to the German government for their assistance in this recovery.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 72,906 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Brady’s, Chandler’s, Liekhus’, Shoemaker’s and Younger’s names are recorded on the Walls of the Missing on the Tablets of the Missing at Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Hombourg, Belgium, along with the other MIAs from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to each name to indicate they have 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) 699-1420/1169.