Missing WWII Prescott airman, 7 others buried with honors

WWMIAThe Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced this week that the remains of U.S. servicemen, missing in action from World War II, have been accounted for and have been or are being returned to their families for burial with military honors.

Army Air Forces 1st Lts. William D. Bernier of Augusta, Montana; Bryant E. Poulsen of Salt Lake City, Utah; Herbert V. Young Jr. of Clarkdale, Arizona and Tech Sgts. Charles L. Johnston of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Hugh F. Moore of Elkton, Maryland and Staff Sgts. John E. Copeland of Dearing, Kansas; Charles J. Jones of Athens, Georgia; and Sgt. Charles A. Gardner of San Francisco, California, have been accounted for and buried with full military honors. Jones will be buried Feb. 28 in Athens, Georgia and Johnston will be buried March 2 in Arlington National Cemetery.

On March 18, there will be a group burial service at Arlington National Cemetery honoring Poulsen, Copeland and the other crew members. Bernier was buried Sept. 19, 2014, in his hometown. Herbert V. Young Jr was buried Oct. 15, 2014; in Prescott, Arizona. Hugh F. Moore was buried on Nov. 11, 2014, in his hometown. Sgt Charles A. Gardner was buried on Dec. 4, 2014 in Arlington National Cemetery.

On April 10, 1944, 12 B-24D Liberator crew members took off from Texter Strip, Nazdab Air Field, New Guinea, on a mission to attack an anti-aircraft site at Hansa Bay. The aircraft was shot down by enemy anti-aircraft fire over the Madang Province, New Guinea. Four of the crewmen were able to parachute from the aircraft, but were reported to have died in captivity.

Following World War II, the Army Graves Registration Service (AGRS) conducted investigations and recovered the remains of three of the missing airmen. In May 1949, AGRS concluded the remaining nine crew members were unrecoverable. However, in 2001, a U.S.-led team located wreckage of a B-24D that bore the tail number of this aircraft. After several surveys, DOD teams excavated the site and recovered human remains and non-biological material evidence.

To identify Jones’, Johnston’s, Gardner’s, Young’s, Moore’s and Bernier’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence and current forensic identification tools, including, mitochondrial DNA, which matched to family members including sisters nieces nephews and cousins.

Scientists accounted for and identified Poulsen and Copeland, s from DPAA using circumstantial evidence that placed them on the aircraft and determined that they were part of the group.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, who went missing while serving our country, contact melinda.f.morgan.mil@mail.mil or call 703-699-1169.

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