Nearly 80 Years After His Death, the Remains of a World War II Airman Are Identified

Following Memorial Day, the body of an Army Air Forces veteran who died in World War II eighty years ago has been located and identified. He will be laid to rest in his native Illinois.

On August 1, 1943, during Operation Tidal Wave, Tech. Sgt. James Howie, who was 24 at the time, was the radio operator on a B-24 Liberator bomber when it was struck by enemy anti-aircraft fire and crashed north of Bucharest, Romania, according to the US Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

Howie’s remains were never identified after the war, according to the agency. The agency reported that his remains were interred as “unknowns” at the Hero Section of the Civilian and Military Cemetery in Bolovan, Ploiesti, Prahova, Romania, along with those of other unidentified colleagues.

More than 81,500 Americans are thought to still be missing from conflicts like World War II, the Cold War, the Gulf Wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and others. According to the organization, more than 41,000 of the missing are thought to have perished at sea.

All American remains from the Bolovan Cemetery were disinterred for identification purposes after the war by the American Graves Registration Command, a group that looked for and located missing American service members.

The American Graves Registration Command removed all American remains from the Bolovan Cemetery after the war so they could be identified. More than 80 unidentified troops from Bolovan Cemetery were placed in Belgian graves since the agency was unable to identify them.

According to the government, the unidentified remains were excavated in 2017 and taken to a facility at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska for testing and identification.

According to the organization, researchers identified Howie’s bones using dental and anthropological examinations, circumstantial evidence, and DNA testing. On August 23, 2022, Howie’s remains were found and identified.

Howie’s name is listed alongside others who are still unaccounted for from World War II on the Tablets of the Missing at the Florence American Cemetery, a location managed by the American Battle Monuments Commission in Impruneta, Italy. The agency claimed that because Howie’s remains were located, a rosette will be added to his name to show that he has been located.

On June 3, Howie will be laid to rest in his hometown of Chester, Illinois.

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