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. Glenn E. Webb, 20, of Wetumpka, Okla., was buried on Nov. 19 in his hometown. On Oct. 16, 1942, Webb and two other crew members were on a C-47C Skytrain air drop mission to deliver food and supplies to U.S. units. The aircraft crashed into a mountainous location near Kagi, New Guinea. Shortly after the crash, all three men were buried by local residents near the Port Moresby-Kokoda Trail.
In 1944, Army Graves Registration personnel moved the remains of Webb’s fellow crew members to a nearby U.S. cemetery but were unable to locate his remains, which were declared non-recoverable.
In 1992, villagers notified U.S. officials of a location containing aircraft wreckage. A team was sent to excavate the site where human remains were recovered along with remnants of a C-47C Skytrain with a tail number matching that of Webb’s aircraft. A second excavation in 1999 recovered an additional skeletal fragment.
Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command used dental comparisons and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA—which matched that of Webb’s brother, sister 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 74,000 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.