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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 are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Leonard R. Farron, 23, of Tacoma, Washington, will be buried May 4 in his hometown. On Oct. 15, 1942, Farron was the pilot of a P-39 aircraft with the 67th Fighter Squadron, 347th Fighter Group, 13th Air Force, when he failed to return from a strafing mission over Tassafaronga, Guadalcanal. His squadron mates reported they last saw Farron 10 minutes before landing, but there was heavy anti-aircraft fire and enemy fighters swarming the area at the time. No one reported seeing Farron crash.
On Dec. 30, 1942, a soldier from the 25th Infantry Division (ID) located a crashed P-39 with a tail number closely matching Farron’s plane, and with the body of the pilot still in the cockpit. However, the remains of that pilot were not recovered at that time. On Jan. 28, 1949, a military review board declared Farron non-recoverable.
In January and February 2013, an investigation team with the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) searched on Guadalcanal for information relating to Farron’s crash, but no wreckage consistent with a P-39 was found.
In July 2013, a JPAC historian located relevant information regarding Farron’s P-39 crash while researching Guadalcanal ground losses associated with the 25th ID. Based on that information, another JPAC investigation team traveled to Guadalcanal, interviewed local citizens, and located an aircraft crash site with wreckage consistent with a P-39 in an area matching the 25th ID record.
From January to February 2015, a DPAA recovery team excavated the crash site and recovered wreckage, human remains and personal military gear.
To identify Farron’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used circumstantial evidence, mitochondrial DNA analysis, which matched two maternal cousins, and dental analysis, which matched his 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.