U.S. Army Air Forces 1st Lt.
Ray F. Fletcher, of Westborough, Mass., will be buried Aug. 20 in
On May 10, 1944, he and four others
aboard a B-25C Mitchell bomber took off from Ajaccio, Corsica, on a
routine courier mission to Ghisonaccia, Corsica. They failed to reach
the destination and were officially reported missing on May 13, 1944.
Two days later, French police reported finding aircraft wreckage on the
island's Mount Cagna.
The U.S. Army's Graves Registration
Command visited the crash site in 1944 and reported remains were not
recoverable. It was not until May 1989 that Corsican authorities
notified U.S. Army Memorial Affairs Activity-Europe that they had found
wreckage of an American WWII-era aircraft and turned over human remains
collected at the mountainous location. They sent a
survey team to the site and determined the terrain was too rugged to
support a recovery effort. In 2003 and 2004, two French nationals
provided U.S. authorities with crew-related equipment recovered from the
A Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in
Action Accounting Command (JPAC) team excavated the location in
September 2005 and recovered additional human remains as well as more
Among other forensic identification tools
and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces
DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA in the
identification of Fletcher's remains.
This month marks the 65th
anniversary of the end of World War II. More than 400,000 of the 16
million Americans who served during the war died. At the end of the
conflict, the U.S. government was unable to recover, identify and bury
approximately 79,000 as known persons. Today, more than 72,000 World War
II Americans remain unaccounted-for.
For additional information on the Defense
Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO
Web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)