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 Aviation Radioman 3rd Class Walter E. Mintus, 22, of Portage, Pennsylvania, accounted for June 25, 2018, will be buried November 10 in his hometown. On July 27, 1944, Mintus was a radioman aboard a torpedo bomber from U.S. Navy Torpedo Squadron Fifty One (VT-51). Mintus’ aircraft was the lead of four Avengers on a mission targeting the Japanese base at Malakal Harbor. The aircraft was last observed three to five miles ahead of the other aircraft, at the beginning of the attack. Witnesses observed an object, believed to be an aircraft, on fire in Malakal Harbor. All three servicemen on board, including Mintus, were reported missing in action and subsequently presumed dead on Feb. 4, 1946.
After combat operations in the area ceased, the American Graves Registration Service compared all unidentified remains recovered near Palau to the crew of the missing Avenger aircraft, with negative results. On May 21, 1949, Mintus was declared non-recoverable.
From January 2004 to 2016, a non-profit organization, Project Recover, conducted several investigations regarding the debris field of an unidentified aircraft, consistent with an Avenger, near Malakal Harbor.
In January and February 2018, a DPAA team excavated a suspected crash site in Malakal Harbor, Republic of Palau, recovering debris and life support equipment that were consistent with a crew member from the crash, as well as possible remains.
To identify Mintus’ remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as material and circumstantial evidence.
DPAA is grateful to Project Recover and the government of Palau for their partnerships 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 72,787 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Mintus’ name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site, along with the other MIAs from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has 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.