The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today
that the remains of a serviceman, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and
are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
U.S. Army Air Forces Pfc. Mervyn E. Sims, 23, of Petaluma, Calif., will be buried on
April 22 in his hometown. On April 24, 1943, Sims and four crew members aboard a C-87
Liberator Express departed from Yangkai, China, in support of “the Hump” resupply mission
between India and China. Prior to takeoff a ground crew determined the aircraft had sufficient
fuel for the six hour flight to the air base on other side of the Himalayas in Chabua, India. Once
cleared for takeoff there was no further communication between the aircrew and airfield
operators. Army Officials launched a search effort when the plane did not arrive at the
destination. No evidence of the aircraft was found and the five men were presumed killed in
In 2003, an American citizen in Burma reported to U.S. officials at the Joint POW/MIA
Accounting Command (JPAC) that he had found aircraft wreckage he believed to be an American
C-87 in the mountains 112 miles east of Chabua. He was detained by Burmese officials when he
attempted to leave the country with human remains and artifacts from the site. The remains and
materials were handed over to officials at the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon. Attempts to excavate
the site are being negotiated with the Indian government.
Meanwhile, JPAC scientists continued the forensic process, analyzing the remains and
physical evidence already in hand.
Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, the Armed Forces
DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA—which matched that of Sims’ sister—
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 72,000 are unaccounted-for from the conflict.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing
Americans, call 703-699-1420 or visit the DPMO Web site at www.dtic.mil/dpmo.