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News Release

Press Release | March 22, 2023

Airman Accounted For From World War II (Holoka, J.)


The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that U.S. Army Air Forces Tech. Sgt. John Holoka Jr., 25, of Cresson, Pennsylvania, killed during World War II, was accounted for Jan. 24, 2023.

In the summer of 1944, Holoka was assigned to the 844th Bombardment Squadron, 489th Bombardment Group (Heavy), Eighth Air Force. On June 22, Holoka was an engineer on a B-24H Liberator that was struck by anti-aircraft after a bombing raid on a German airfield in Saint-Cyr-l’École, near Versailles, France.

Despite the damage to the B-24 Liberator, the pilot was able to nurse the aircraft until it was over the English coast, whereupon he ordered his crew to bail out. Seven of the airmen parachuted successfully while the other three crew members, including Holoka, were still on board. Two of the crew witnessed the aircraft crash into a farm in West Sussex, England.

Beginning in 1946, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC), Army Quartermaster Corps, was the organization tasked with recovering missing American personnel in the European Theater. In November 1947, AGRC investigators searched the area of the crash site, but they did not discover the remains of any other crewmembers. Holoka was declared non-recoverable May 10, 1950.

A local aviation archaeology group attempted to excavate the crash site in 1974, to search for aircraft parts. A number of U.S. Department of Defense investigation and recovery efforts took place in 2017 and 2019, with a June 2021 recovery mission finding possible human remains and material evidence.

To identify Holoka’s remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis as well as material evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used dental, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y chromosome (Y-STR) analysis.

Holoka’s name is recorded on the Wall of the Missing at Cambridge American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Cambridge, United Kingdom, along with others still missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Holoka will be buried in Portage, Pennsylvania on May 1, 2023.

For family and funeral information, contact the Army Casualty Office at (800) 892-2490.

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 or find us on social media at or

Holoka's personnel profile can be viewed at