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The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that U.S. Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Ralph D. Kolb, 19, of McGehee, Arkansas, killed during World War II, was accounted for Sept. 14, 2022.
In the summer of 1943, Kolb was assigned to the 343rd Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 98th Bombardment Group (Heavy), 9th Air Force. On Aug. 1, 1943, the B-24 Liberator bomber on which Kolb was the assistant radio operator was hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire and crashed during Operation TIDAL WAVE, the largest bombing mission against the oil fields and refineries at Ploiesti, north of Bucharest, Romania. His remains were not identified following the war. The remains that could not be identified were buried as Unknowns in the Hero Section of the Civilian and Military Cemetery of Bolovan, Ploiesti, Prahova, Romania.
Following the war, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC), the organization that searched for and recovered fallen American personnel, disinterred all American remains from the Bolovan Cemetery for identification. The AGRC was unable to identify more than 80 unknowns from Bolovan Cemetery, and those remains were permanently interred at Ardennes American Cemetery and Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, both in Belgium.
In 2017, DPAA began exhuming unknowns believed to be associated with unaccounted-for airmen from Operation TIDAL WAVE losses. These remains were sent to the DPAA Laboratory for examination and identification.
To identify Kolb’s remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y chromosome DNA (Y-STR) analysis.
Kolb’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.
Kolb will be buried in McGehee, Arkansas on June 14, 2023.
For family and funeral information, contact the Army Casualty Office at (800) 892-2490.
DPAA is grateful to the American Battle Monuments Commission and to the U.S. Army Regional Mortuary-Europe/Africa for their partnership in this mission.
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.
Kolb’s personnel profile can be viewed at https://dpaa-mil.sites.crmforce.mil/dpaaProfile?id=a0Jt0000000Xe7cEAC.