A team of US and Russian investigators has positively identified
the wreckage of a US Navy PV-1 Ventura patrol bomber, missing since
March 25, 1944, at a crash site on the Russian far eastern peninsula
The team, led by retired US Army Maj. Gen. Roland Lajoie, chairman
of the US - Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs (USRJC), and Col.
Konstantin Golumbovskiy, the USRJC's deputy chairman, visited the
crash site from August 7-9.
At the site, forensic specialists from the US Army Central Identification
Laboratory, Hawaii (CILHI) recovered remains assumed to be those
of crewmembers. The specialists believe additional remains are located
at the site and have recommended a full-scale recovery operation
be mounted next summer, when the absence of ice and snow would make
Initial information on the crash site was provided to USRJC officials
by a local Kamchatkan historian, Ms. Alla Paperno. The investigation
team, which included members of the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing
Personnel Office (DPMO) and CILHI, used a combination of archival
research and interviews with Russian geologists who had been to the
site 30 - 40 years ago to locate the remote site.
The plane was one of five which took off from Attu,
in the Aleutian Islands, on the "Empire Express," a reconnaissance
and bombing mission over Japanese bases on the northern Kurile
Islands. In the face of
extremely bad weather and hazardous flying conditions, only one of
the five planes in the flight was able to successfully complete the
mission. Of the other planes, one crashed soon after takeoff, two
were unable to reach the target area, discharged their bombs into
the sea and returned to base, and one failed to return. It is this
plane, about which there has been no information for 56 years, that
was located on the slope of the Mutnovskiy volcano in Kamchatka.
Working with the US Navy's casualty office, DPMO has initiated efforts
to locate relatives of the PV-1's seven-man crew. The results of
the recent investigation will be provided to those family members,
as will additional information as it is developed.
A request has been made in the Russian media that any Russian citizens
having information on this or other American crash sites contact
USRJC officials in Moscow.
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