The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that U.S. Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Ernest N. Vienneau, 25, killed during World War II, was accounted for April 16, 2021.
In the fall of 1944, Vienneau was a pilot assigned to the 340th Bombardment Squadron, 97th Bombardment Group, 15th Air Force, based out of Amendola, Italy. On Nov. 6, the B-17 Flying Fortress bomber on which he was serving as co-pilot came under heavy anti-aircraft fire while on a mission over Maribor, Yugoslavia, in present-day Slovenia. During the barrage, a piece of flak penetrated the cockpit and struck Vienneau in the head, mortally wounding him. While the crew treated Vienneau, the pilot attempted to fly the damaged B-17 back to base. However, the aircraft could not make it and the pilot was forced to ditch off the coast of Vis Island, Croatia. The surviving 10 crew made it out of the aircraft, but Vienneau’s body could not be recovered from the rapidly sinking B-17. Following the war, his remains could not be found and recovered.
DPAA is grateful to the Croatian divers who discovered the underwater crash site, as well as the Croatian Ministries of Veterans Affairs, Culture, and Defense, the Croatian Conservation Institute, the University of Zadar, and the team from Lund University whose divers operated at a depth of 72 meters during the recovery, for their steadfast partnership in this successful mission. Prior to this recovery, the PBS Nova episode, "The Last B-24," featured an investigative dive on this aircraft,
which can be viewed at https://www.pbs.org/video/last-b-24-pequsf.
Vienneau’s name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Florence American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Impruneta, Italy, along with others still missing 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 or find us on social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa or https://www.linkedin.com/company/defense-pow-mia-accounting-agency.
Vienneau’s personnel profile can be viewed at https://dpaa-mil.sites.crmforce.mil/dpaaProfile?id=a0Jt000000bHtzAEAS.