The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO)
announced today that the remains of a serviceman, missing in action from World
War II, have been identified and returned to his family for burial with full
Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Emil T. Wasilewski of Chicago will be
buried on June 26 at Arlington National Cemetery. On Sept. 13, 1944, Wasilewski
and eight other crew members were on a B-17G Flying Fortress that crashed near
Neustaedt-on-the-Werra, Germany. Only one of the crewmen is known to have
successfully parachuted out of the aircraft before it crashed. The remaining
eight crewmen were buried by German forces in a cemetery in Neustaedt.
Following the war, U.S. Army Graves Registration personnel
attempted to recover the remains of the eight men, but were only able to move
the remains of one man to a U.S. military cemetery in Holland. In 1953, with
access to eastern Germany restricted by the Soviet Union, the remains of the
seven remaining unaccounted-for crewmen -- including Wasilewski --were declared
In 1991, a German national who was digging a grave in the
cemetery in Neustaedt discovered a metal U.S. military identification tag and
notified officials. German burial law restricted further site investigation
until 2007, when the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) surveyed the area.
In 2008, the site was excavated and the team recovered human remains and
Scientists from the JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification
Laboratory used forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence,
including dental comparisons and Y-chromosome DNA -- which matched that of
Wasilewski's nephew -- in the identification of his remains.
At the end of the war, the U.S. government was unable to recover
and identify approximately 79,000 Americans. Today, more than 73,000 are
unaccounted for from the conflict.
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 call 703-699-1420.