Remains of AL soldier missing since WWII identified, returning - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Remains of AL soldier missing since WWII identified, returning home

(Source: MGN) (Source: MGN)
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

The Department of Defense has announced that the remains of a United States serviceman, lost during World War II, have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial.

The man was identified as Staff Sergeant Gerald V. Atkinson or Ramer, Alabama.

On April 10, 1945, Atkinson and eight other crew members embarked on a mission aboard a B-17G bomber, assigned to the 303rd Bombardment Group.

On that day, the aircraft departed Molesworth, England on a bombing mission over Oranienburg, Germany. During the mission, the aircraft was shot down and 21-year-old Gerald Atkinson was reported missing.

According to a release from the Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office, Atkinson's aircraft, along with 38 others from the 303rd Bombardment Group, were flying in a formation as part of a major allied bombing operation against targets in Germany.

After Atkinson's plane successfully dropped their payload, it was attacked by six to eight German ME-262 jets. The B-17G then crashed into the Glasow Lake near Schonebeck, Germany. Of the nine crew members, only one survived.

In 1946 and 1947, German nationals recovered remains from the lake believed to be the remains of American airmen and they were buried as unknowns in a local community cemetery.

In August of 1947, the remains were exhumed by the U.S. Army Graves Registration Command and reinterred as unknowns in Nueville en Condroz, Belgium.

In December of 1948, the remains were again exhumed for possible identification and it was determined that the remains were those of Atkinson's crew; however, the AGRC could not conclusively determine the identifications of each individual crew member. The remains were then reinterred as unknowns in the Brittany American Cemetery and Memorial in St. James, France in Nov., 1951.

In 2012, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command re-examined the AGRC's records and concluded that the possibility of identifying the unknown remains now exist.

Scientist from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used circumstantial evidence and mitochondrial DNA, which matched Atkinson's cousin, to identify the remains.

Atkinson will be buried on Aug. 16 in Chattahoochee, Florida with full military honors.

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