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News Release

Press Release | June 26, 2024

Airman Accounted for from WWII (Banta, D.)

Washington  –  

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that U.S. Army Air Force Tech. Sgt. Donald V. Banta, 21, of Los Angeles, California, killed during World War II, was accounted for Sept. 26, 2023.

In early 1944, Banta was assigned to the 703rd Bombardment Squadron, 445th Bombardment Group, 8th Air Force in the European Theater. On Feb 24, Banta, an engineer onboard a B-24J “Liberator”, was killed in action when his plane was hit by heavy anti-aircraft fire over Gotha, Germany. One of the surviving crewmembers reported seeing the plane on fire and in a steep dive, before eventually exploding on the ground. While two crewmembers survived, the others, including Banta, were killed in the incident. German forces garrisoned in the area documented the crash site north of Leimbach Bahnhof, near Bad Salzungen, Germany. After the crash, German troops recovered the remains of the ball turret gunner and buried them in a local cemetery. The other six crewmembers, including Banta, were unaccounted for following the war.

In March 1952, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC), the organization that searched for and recovered fallen American personnel in the European Theater, took custody of comingled unidentified remains recovered from Bad Salzungen Cemetery. These remains, X-9093 Griesheim Mausoleum (X-9093), X-9094 Griesheim Mausoleum (X-9094), and X-9095 Griesheim Mausoleum (X-9095), were believed to be those belonging to Banta’s downed aircraft. At the time, identification of these remains was not possible, and they were interred in the Ardennes American Cemetery, Belgium.

In June 2021, DPAA historians and American Battle Monuments Commission personnel, exhumed X-9093, X-9094, and X-9095 from Ardennes American Cemetery and transferred them to the DPAA Laboratory for analysis and identification.

To identify Banta’s remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.

TSgt. Banta’s name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, Hombourg, Belgium, along with others still missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

TSgt. Banta will be buried in Riverside National Cemetery, California, on a date to be determined.

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

Banta’s personnel profile can be viewed at