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The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that U.S. Army Air Forces Sgt. Donal C. Aiken, 22, of Everett, Washington, killed during World War II, was accounted for May 5, 2023.
In the summer of 1944, Aiken was assigned to the 678th Bombardment Squadron, 444th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy), 58th Bombardment Wing, Twentieth Bomber Command. On June 26, Aiken while serving as a crewmember on the B-29 Superfortress crashed into a rice paddy in the village of Sapekhati, India after a bombing raid on Imperial iron and steel works at Yawata, Kyushu Island, Japan. All 11 crew members were killed instantly in the crash.
On June 28, 1944 a team from 342nd Service Squadron, 329th Service Group visited the crash site recovering and identifying only seven sets of remains which were interred at in United States Military Cemetery in Panitola, Assam, India and subsequently disinterred and sent to their final internment on Jan. 13, 1948.
In September 1948 the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC), investigation team searched the area of the crash site, but they did not discover any remains associated with Aiken. He was declared non-recoverable Jan. 2, 1948.
In October 2014 the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (a DPAA predecessor organization) conducted a Joint Field Activity in Sapekhati, which led to the location of the crash site and the recovery of life support equipment and wreckage associated with the B29 aircraft. In 2018 and 2019, Southeastern Archaeological Research (SEARCH) a DPAA partner organization excavated the site and recovered possible osseous remains and material evidence.
To identify Aiken’s remains, scientists from DPAA used material evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), analysis.
Aiken will be buried in Madison, Tennessee 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 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.