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.
Navy Reserve Ensign Harold P. DeMoss, 21, of Nashville, Tennessee, accounted for on May 9, will be buried September 15 in his hometown. In the early morning hours of June 23, 1945, DeMoss was a member of Fighting Squadron 100 (VF-100), piloting an F6F-3 Hellcat from Naval Air Station Barbers Point, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii. DeMoss was accompanied by two other squadron aircraft for a night division tactics training flight. Following the completion of their flight plan, the pilots circled the island. At Kahuku Point, the northern tip of Oahu, the pilots encountered a layer of clouds. DeMoss climbed above the clouds and attempted to descend through them. His aircraft was not seen reemerging from the clouds and attempts to contact him via radio were unsuccessful. An immediate search for his aircraft began.
Later that morning, aircraft observed burning wreckage in the rugged, densely-forested terrain of the Ko’olau Mountain Range. On June 26, 1945, a search and rescue party hiked into the forest to locate the crash site. The search party found remains that could not immediately be identified near a crashed F6F aircraft.
On July 2, 1945, a second search team set out for the crash site to identify the plane. The team located material evidence identifying the wreckage as DeMoss’ F6F. On Aug. 30, 1945, DeMoss’ status was amended to deceased and in August 1949, his remains were declared non-recoverable.
From August to October 2016, personnel from DPAA conducted an excavation of the crash site, locating material evidence associated with DeMoss’ wreckage.
To identify DeMoss’ remains, scientists from DPAA used material and circumstantial evidence.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 72,866 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.