The remains of a ten-man U.S. Army Air Corps bomber
crew [B-24D "Cold Steel" 42-41135], missing in action from World War II, have been recovered, identified
and returned to their families in the United States. The
crew members of the B-24D Liberator are identified as: 2nd Lieutenants
Raymond J. Drewelow, Waterloo, Iowa; Edward M. Sparks, Alton, Kan.;
James H. Nelson, Tallulah, La.; George R. Ellison, Danville, Va. Also,
Staff Sergeants Joel G. Williams, Meadows of Dan, Va.; Salvatore J.
Elhai, Brooklyn, N.Y.; William E. Van Camp, South Bend, Ind.; Arthur
J. Swartz Jr., Aurora, Ill.; Sergeants Gilbert F. Smith, Princeton,
Ind.; and Anthony G. Scaccia, New Orleans, La.
On March 5, 1944, Drewelow was piloting the B-24
on a bombing mission against Japanese targets over the Hansa Bay area
of Papua New Guinea. The aircraft and crew disappeared on that mission
in heavy thunderstorms. No radio transmissions
were ever received from the crew, and subsequent searches did not
locate them. After the war, U.S. Army graves registration teams conducted
wide searches in New Guinea without success.
In early 1989, the former curator [ Bruce Hoy] of
the Air War Museum in Port Moresby, New Guinea, notified the U.S.
Army Central Identification Laboratory Hawaii (CILHI), that wreckage
of a B-24 had been located in Tauta, Madang Province. Between July
1989 and August 1990, three CILHI teams located, investigated and
excavated the site, recovering remains and artifacts associated with
the crash. The remains were transported to CILHI where the forensic
process included the use of mitochondrial DNA to confirm the identification
of each of the crewmembers. Of the more than 88,000 American service
members still missing in action from all conflicts, 78,000 are from
World War II.