The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Burleigh E. Curtis, 22, of Holliston, Massachusetts, killed during World War II, was accounted for on Dec. 13, 2018.
On June 13, 1944, Curtis was a member of the 377th Fighter Squadron, 362nd Fighter Group, piloting a P-47D aircraft on a dive-bomb attack near Briouze, France, when his plane crashed. Witnesses reported that he was not seen bailing out of the aircraft prior to the crash.
The following day, a French cabinet maker, Raphael Merriele, who witnessed the crash, located the crash site and reportedly buried what remains he could recover.
In 1947, an American Graves Registration Command (AGRC) team traveled to Briouze to retrieve Curtis’ remains, however no remains were found. The AGRC investigator concluded that Curtis’ remains had been removed by a prior AGRC team and was likely identified.
By 1950, receiving no update on the remains or an identification, an AGRC team declared Curtis non-recoverable.
Between 2011 and 2012, the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, DPMO (a predecessor to DPAA), contacted the mayor of St-Andre-de-Briouze and the Briouze chapter of the Association Normande de Souvenir Aerien, a major aircraft souvenir group, and conducted a number of investigations in the area where Curtis was believed to have been buried.
In August and September 2017, under a partnership, History Flight, Inc., a nongovernmental organization, excavated the crash site, recovering Curtis’ identification tags, aircraft material, life support equipment, personal effects and possible osseous material.
To identify Curtis’ remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis, as well as historical and material evidence.
DPAA is grateful to Mr. Raphael Merriele, Mr. Paul Hardy, Mr. Engelbert Serpin, Mr. Jacques Paris, Mr. Jean Claude Clouet, Mr. Raymond Prod’homme, the French government and History Flight, Inc., 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 72,742 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Curtis’ name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Brittany American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Montjoie Saint Martin, France, along with the others missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
For family contact information, contact the Army Casualty Office at (800) 892-2490.
Curtis will be buried June 25, 2019, in Windham Center, Maine.
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.
Curtis’ personnel profile can be viewed at https://dpaa.secure.force.com/dpaaProfile?id=a0Jt0000000XdjSEAS