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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 returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. John J. Bono, 28, of Denver, will be buried on Dec. 2 in his
hometown. On Sept. 13, 1944, Bono and eight other crew members were on a B-17G Flying
Fortress that crashed near Neustaedt-on-the-Werra, Germany. Only one of the crewmen is known
to have successfully parachuted out of the aircraft before in crashed. The remaining eight
crewmen were buried by German forces in a cemetery in Neustaedt.
Following the war, U.S. Army Graves Registration personnel attempted to recover the
remains of the eight men, but were only able to move the remains of one man to a U.S. military
cemetery in Holland. In 1953, with access to eastern Germany restricted by the Soviet Union, the
remains of the seven unaccounted for crewmen were declared Non-Recoverable.
In 1991, a German national who was digging a grave in the cemetery in Neustaedt,
discovered a metal U.S. military identification tag and notified officials. The U.S. Joint
POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) was not able to gain access to the site until 2007, and
in 2008 excavated the area within the cemetery, and recovered human remains, and additional
metal identification tags from three of the crewmembers, including Bono.
To identify Bono’s remains, scientists from the JPAC used forensic identification tools
and circumstantial evidence, including dental comparisons. Additionally, the Armed Forces DNA
Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA—which matched that of Bono’s cousin and
niece—in the identification of his remains.
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) 699-1420.