Airman Missing From World War II Accounted For (Gossett)

Release No: 16-017 April 4, 2016 PRINT | E-MAIL

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing from World War II, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Army Air Forces Flight Officer Dewey L. Gossett, 23, of Spartanburg, South Carolina, will be buried April 11 in Wellford, South Carolina. On Sept. 27, 1943, Gossett was assigned to the 527th Fighter Squadron, 86th Fighter Group, 12th Air Force, and was the pilot of a single-seat A-36A “Apache” aircraft, in a flight of four aircraft searching for targets of opportunity on a strafing mission. Within 10 minutes of departing Sele Airfield in Italy, the aircraft encountered bad weather and poor visibility, leading them to fly into a ravine under cloud cover. Upon exiting the ravine, three planes turned left, while Gossett’s turned right and disappeared near Acerno, Italy. There was no enemy activity in the area and a search failed to identify a crash site. Following the loss incident, and with no further information on the whereabouts of Gossett, he was declared dead on Sept. 28, 1944.

The American Graves Registration Service, charged with the recovery and identification of fallen U.S. service members, conducted a search and investigation near Acerno in March, 1945. The investigation revealed that a plane had crashed and the pilot was buried in the Civil Cemetery in Acerno. The remains were disinterred, but were later found to be part of a B-17 loss in the same area. The AGRS declared Gossett non-recoverable on May 29, 1948.

In June 2012, U.S. investigators contacted a private group of Italian historians and enthusiasts, Association Salerno 1943, who discovered the crash of an A-36 type aircraft in the mountains near Acerno, Italy. In November 2014, Association Salerno 1943 again visited the crash site and found human remains, which were returned to the custody of U.S. personnel. DPAA is grateful to Association Salerno 1943 for their vital help in this recovery mission.

To identify Gossett’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA analysis, which matched two nieces and a great niece, circumstantial evidence, and dental analysis, which matched Gossett’s records.

Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil or call (703) 699-1420.