The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the
remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and are being
returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army 2nd Lt. William R. Parkinson, of Norfolk, Va., will be buried on Jan. 18, in Conyers, Ga.
On May 7, 1944, Parkinson was a pilot of a B-24D Liberator that departed Nadzab, New Guinea on a
bombing mission. Due to mechanical troubles, the B-24D was delayed in departing the airbase and was
unable to join the formation after takeoff. Neither the aircraft nor Parkinson nor the nine other
crewmen aboard the plane were seen after takeoff. In 1946, the War Department declared all ten men to
be presumed dead.
In 1973, a Papua New Guinea Forest Department official reported a wartime aircraft in the
mountains southeast of the city Lae. In October 1973, a team of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)
responded to the report and visited the site, where they found aircraft wreckage that corresponded to that
of a B-24D. At that time the RAAF recovered possible human remains, which were transferred to the
U.S. Army Mortuary in Tachikawa, Japan; however, no human remains were individually identified. In
1974, the remains were buried as a group at Arlington National Cemetery.
In April 2008, a Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) team was sent to investigate and
survey the crash site. The team recovered aircraft wreckage from a B-24D and additional remains.
To identify the remains, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification
Laboratory used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools such as dental comparisons
and mitochondrial DNA which matched Parkinson’s cousins.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died. At the end of
the war, the U.S. government was unable to recover and identify approximately 79,000 Americans.
Today, more than 73,000 are unaccounted-for from the conflict.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing
Americans, visit the DPMO web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1169.