The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing since World War II, have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
U.S. Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. John W. Herb of Cleveland, Ohio, will be buried June 18, in Arlington National Cemetery. On April 13, 1945, Herb was assigned to the 368th Fighter Squadron, 359th Fighter Group, 1st Air Division, as the pilot of an P-51D Mustang. His aircraft sustained damage while strafing German aircraft on the ground. During Herb’s attempted landing in an open field southeast of Hamburg, Germany, his aircraft crashed. Herb’s wingman reported seeing the wreckage burning in the field. Herb was reported killed in action. His remains were not recovered during the war.
In 1950, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC) investigated Herb’s loss, but was unsuccessful in finding his remains.
In June 2014, a DoD team working in the vicinity of Gudow, Germany, interviewed several locals who recalled a U.S. aircraft striking a tree and burning. The locals also reported that the pilot was severely injured in the crash and had been shot by a German soldier who removed him from the wreckage. The witness also stated that his remains were buried near the crash site. The team excavated the suspected burial site, recovering remains and aircraft wreckage.
To identify Herb’s remains, scientists from DPAA used circumstantial evidence and dental comparison which matched his records.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died. Today, more than 73,000 are unaccounted for from that conflict.