Sailor Killed During World War II Accounted For (Punnell)


Navy Reserve Lt. William Q. Punnell, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for.

On July 25, 1944, Punnell was the acting commanding officer of the VF-14 Fighter Squadron, departing from the aircraft carrier USS Wasp in his F6F-3 “Hellcat” with several other aircraft on a strafing mission against Japanese targets on the islands of the Republic of Palau. The mission was to strafe the Babelthaup (now Babeldaob) Airbase and the two Arakabesan Seaplane bases. Punnell’s aircraft encountered intense antiaircraft fire over the islands of Palau. His Hellcat was in the lead position when the tail of the plane was seen taking a direct hit. He crashed approximately 300 feet from the northern seaplane base, and his aircraft sank on impact. The other pilots on the mission did not witness Punnell bail out from his aircraft.

Interment services are pending.

DPAA is grateful to the Project Recover and SEARCH for their assistance in this recovery.

For more information about DPAA, visit, find us on social media at, or call 703-699-1420.

News and Stories

Public Affairs Contact Information

Public Affairs Office
Washington, D.C.
2300 Defense Pentagon
Attn: External Affairs
Washington, D.C. 20301-2300
Phone: (703) 699-1420