The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today
that the remains of a U.S. serviceman from World War II have been identified and are being
returned to the family for burial with full military honors.
Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Stephen L. Pascal, 20, of Hollywood, Calif., will be buried on
Nov. 30, in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C. On April 7, 1945, Pascal was
flying a photo reconnaissance mission between Gottingen and Alfeld, Germany, when his P-38
Lightning aircraft, fitted for reconnaissance, went missing. An investigation conducted after the
war determined Pascal’s aircraft exploded over the town of Gottingen. Nearby, on the same day,
1st Lt. Newell F. Mills Jr., and his wingman, went missing in their P-51D aircraft.
In 1947, the U.S. Army Graves Registration Service (AGRS) exhumed remains of an
American pilot, buried by local residents, from a village cemetery in Varrigsen, Germany. The
circumstantial evidence led AGRS to believe the remains belonged to be Mills since his aircraft
was closer to that village, when it went missing, than Pascal’s. The remains were buried in the
Ardennes American Cemetery near Neuville-en-Condroz, Belgium.
In 2004, a German civilian began excavating the crash site associated with the airman
buried in Varrigsen. Aircraft parts recovered from the location were from a P-38 Lightning—
Pascal’s aircraft—not the P-51D flown by Mills. In 2007, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting
Command (JPAC) excavated the crash site and recovered human remains, P-38 aircraft parts and
military equipment. In 2008, JPAC exhumed the remains thought to be Mills and examined them
with the remains recovered in 2007. It was determined that the remains were all Pascal’s.
Among forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC
used mitochondrial DNA—which matched that of Pascal’s cousin—in the identification of his
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 remain 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.