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News Release

Press Release | May 22, 2023

Pilot Accounted For From World War II (Litherland, J.)


The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that U.S. Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. James Litherland, 25, of South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, killed during World War II, was accounted for March 16, 2023.

In February of 1944, Litherland was assigned to the 359th Squadron, 303rd Bombardment Group (Heavy). On February 28, Litherland was co-piloting a B-17F Flying Fortress that was struck by anti-aircraft fire after a bombing raid on a German V-2 rocket site in Bois-Coquerel, France.

Before the plane crashed near the city of Le Translay, France three of the airmen parachuted successfully while the other seven crew members, including Litherland, were still on board.

In 1945 American investigators reviewed German documents detailing American planes and their crew during the war. Those documents revealed six sets of remains were recovered near the crash site Le Translay and were buried in the English World War I Memorial Cemetery at Abbeville, France on March 2, 1944. In June 1945 American Graves Registration team disinterred the six sets of remains from Abbeville and interred them in the United States Military Cemetery at St. Andre, France. Five of the six sets of remains were identified the one unknown set of remains was designated as X-452 St. Andre.

Beginning in 1946, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC), Army Quartermaster Corps, was the organization tasked with recovering missing American personnel in the European Theater. In March 1947 AGRC investigators identified X-452 as being associated with Litherland but were unable to identify him and X-452 was transferred to Suresnes American Cemetery, France.  Litherland was declared non-recoverable Dec. 26, 1950.

In September 2017, a DPAA Investigation Team traveled to Le Translay to locate Litherland’s crash site; in August 2018, a DPAA Recovery Team recovered material evidence and osseous remains from the site, which the DPAA laboratory accessioned for analysis. In October 2019, the Department of Defense and the American Battle Monuments Commission exhumed the unknown remains designated X-452 St. Andre, believed to be associated with Litherland, from Suresnes American Cemetery.

To identify Litherland’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), and autosomal DNA (auSTR), analysis.

Litherland’s name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at Ardennes American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Neupré, Belgium, along with others still missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Litherland will be buried at Williamsport, Pennsylvania, on a date yet to be determined.

For family and funeral information, contact the Army Casualty Office at (800) 892-2490.

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 or find us on social media at or