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.
He is 1st Lt. Shannon E. Estill, U.S. Army Air Forces, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He will be
buried on October 10 in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.
On April 13, 1945, Estill’s P-38J Lightning was struck by enemy anti-aircraft fire while
attacking targets in eastern Germany. Another U.S. pilot nearby reported seeing Estill’s aircraft
explode and crash. Because the location of the crash site was within the Russian-controlled sector
of occupied Germany, U.S. military personnel could not recover Estill’s remains after the war.
In 2003, a team from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) investigated a
crash site near the town of Elsnig in eastern Germany. The site had been reported by two German
nationals whose hobby is finding the location of World War II crash sites. They also claimed to
have found remains at the site, which they turned over to U.S. Army officials. The team surveyed
the site and interviewed two more men who witnessed the crash as children.
In 2005, another JPAC team excavated the crash site and recovered additional human
remains as well as P-38 wreckage. Included in the recovered wreckage was an aircraft data plate
from Estill’s plane.
Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from
JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used mitochondrial DNA in the
identification of the remains, matching DNA sequences from a maternal relative.
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.