The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, accounted-for from World War II, are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Air Forces Flight Officer Richard W. Lane, 21, of Beatrice, Nebraska, accounted for on April 23, will be buried Aug. 9 in Gage, Nebraska. In December 1944, Lane served with the 815th Bombardment Squadron, 483rd Bombardment Group (Heavy), 15th Air Force. He was killed on Dec. 27, 1944 when the B-17G aircraft he co-piloted was shot down on a bombardment mission over Austria. As Allied aircraft neared the target at Linz, Austria, they encountered heavy anti-aircraft fire. Lane’s aircraft took a direct hit over Linz and reportedly crashed near St. Florian, Austria.
Lane and three other crew members were listed as buried in St. Florian Cemetery on Dec. 29, 1944.
In May 1945, the American Graves Registration Command, in an effort to investigate unresolved casualties that occurred in Europe, concluded that one of the Airmen in Lane’s aircraft was the only unresolved Airman killed in close proximity to the recovery locationW of X-239. Based on this information, X-239 was disinterred but dental analysis was unable to make a positive association with the Airman. The remains were then reinterred in the United States Military Cemetery Henri-Chapelle, Belgium, on Aug. 2, 1950.
In June 1945, the AGRC recovered four sets of remains from a single grave near the cathedral in the St. Florian Cemetery. The AGRC was able to identify one set of remains, designating the others as Unknowns X-59, X-60 and X-61. The unidentified remains were transferred to the temporary cemetery in Nurnberg, Germany.
In August 1945, unknown remains were disinterred from the Nurnberg cemetery for reprocessing and moved to the U.S. military Cemetery at St. Avold, France, where they were redesignated as X-239, X-240, X-241 and X-242 St. Avold.
In January 1946, the Quartermaster General identified the remains designated X-240 to be Lane, subsequently burying them in the Filley Cemetery in Gage County, Nebraska.
Based on DPAA’s analysis of historical documents, it is likely that the remains designated X-239 and X-240 became exchanged during or immediately after the August 1945 movement to St. Avold.
On June 8, 2017, a team from the U.S. Army Regional Mortuary-Europe/Africa, working with the American Battle Monuments Commission, exhumed X-239 from the Henri-Chapelle Cemetery. The remains were transferred to DPAA for analysis.
To identify Lane’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) DNA analysis, as well as dental and anthropological analysis, and circumstantial evidence.
DPAA is grateful the American Battle Monuments Commission for their partnership in this mission, as well as to Lane’s family for their support.
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.
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.