The remains of eight U.S. servicemen who have been missing in action since World War II have been accounted for and returned to their families for burial with full military honors, the Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced Thursday.
The group remains of Lt. Jack S. M. Arnett, Charleston, W.V.; Flight Officer William B. Simpson, Winston-Salem, N.C.; Tech. Sgt. Charles T. Goulding, Marlboro, N.Y.; Tech. Sgt. Robert J. Stimson, San Bernardino, Calif.; Staff Sgt. Jimmie Doyle, Lamesa, Texas; Staff Sgt. Leland D. Price, Oakwood, Ohio; and Staff Sgt. Earl E. Yoh, Scott, Ohio, and the individual remains of Lt. Frank J. Arhar, Lloydell, Pa. were buried today in Arlington National Cemetery. The individual remains of Arnett, Yoh, Doyle and Stinson were buried earlier by their families.
According to a DOD release, on Sept. 1, 1944, a B-24J Liberator bomber was shot down while on a bombing mission of enemy targets near the town of Koror, Republic of Palau. Crewmen on other aircraft reported seeing Arnett’s aircraft come apart in the air and crash into the sea between Babelthuap and Koror islands. Two parachutes were spotted, but none of the 11-man crew ever returned to friendly territory. An aerial search was unsuccessful, and more thorough recovery operations could not be conducted due to Japanese control of the area.
Post-war Japanese documents established that three other members of the crew survived the crash but died while prisoners of the Japanese. In 1949, the American Graves Registration Service declared the remains of all 11 crew members to be non-recoverable.
In October 2000, a team from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command mounted several investigations on Babelthaup Island to attempt to locate several reported mass burial sites. A team returned in November 2001, but their excavation did not recover any material or biological evidence indicating a mass burial. They returned again January 2004, and shortly before the team completed their excavation, they were contacted by a private wreckage hunting group called the “Bent Prop Project” which had discovered the wreckage of a B-24 on the ocean floor four miles northeast of where a diagram from U.S. records indicated a crash site. The JPAC team examined the wreckage and recovered remains.
Divers from JPAC and the U.S. Navy examined the underwater site again in 2005 where they recovered more remains and material evidence. After stabilizing the underwater site for safety reasons, the joint JPAC-U.S. Navy team dived on the site again in early 2007 and recovered additional remains. The joint team returned again in 2008 and recovered more remains and evidence.
The use of mitochondrial DNA analysis from the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, the biological profile of the remains, dental records, material evidence including machine gun serial numbers and identification tags of Arnett, Doyle and Yoh, enabled JPAC scientists to establish the identifications.