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 1st Lt. Ben B. Barnes, 23, of Miller, South Dakota, will be buried Oct. 15 in his hometown. On Dec. 5, 1944, Barnes was assigned to the 361st Fighter Squadron, 356th Fighter Group, as the pilot of a single seat P-51D aircraft on an escort mission to Berlin, Germany, when he encountered enemy aircraft during the return flight. His plane was last reported northeast of Berlin over Eberswalde, and a German military shoot-down report documented a P-51 near Carlshof. However, due to political restrictions in the Russian-occupied zone, American Graves Registration teams were unable to conduct further investigations. The War Department declared Barnes deceased as of Dec. 6, 1945.
In August 2010, a Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command investigation team conducted field research and interviewed an eyewitness who recalled being in the fields when the plane crashed. He led investigators to the location where he found wreckage, which was consistent with the site described by German investigators in 1953.
From July to September 2015, two DPAA recovery teams excavated the site and recovered two .50 caliber machine guns, which matched the serial numbers to Barnes’ aircraft, as well as possible human remains, personal equipment and material evidence.
To identify Barnes’ remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA analysis, which matched a cousin, as well as dental and anthropological analysis, which matched his records, and circumstantial evidence.
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, find us on social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa or call (703) 699-1420.