- Posted September 26, 2013 by
Green Canyon 641
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Home and Away: Remembering the fallen
Missing WWII Airman Comes Home
Aircraft: A-20G-20-DO Havoc Serial Number 42-86625
Pilot: 2nd Lt. Vernal J. Bird, O-750321 (MIA / KIA, BR) Midvale, UT
Gunner: SSgt Roy F. Davis, 31068835 (MIA / KIA) Peterborough, NH
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 3rd Bombardment Group, 13th Bombardment Squadron. No known nickname or nose art. When lost, engines R-2600-23 serial numbers 42-154416 and 42-154482. Weapon serial numbers unknown.
One of thirty-six A-20s that took off from Nadzab Airfield No. 4 (APO 713, Unit 1) on a mission against Boram Airfield west of Wewak. Over the target, this aircraft and A-20G 42-86618 lagging behind the formation while making their strafing run over the target. Last seen halfway down the run. This aircraft failed to return and was declared Missing In Action (MIA).
Sept. 25, 2013
SOLDIER MISSING FROM WWII ACCOUNTED FOR
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing from World War II, have been accounted for and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army 2nd Lt. Vernal J. Bird, 26, of Lindon, Utah, will be buried Sept. 28, in Springville, Utah. On March 12, 1944, Bird, a member of the 5th Air Force, 3rd Bombardment Group, 13th Bombardment Squadron, was the pilot of an A-20G Havoc aircraft on an attack mission over the island of New Guinea. Other airmen in the formation saw Bird’s aircraft lagging behind, and reported the last known location of the aircraft was “about half way down the run over Boram Airstrip.” Bird’s aircraft did not
return to base and attempts to locate the aircraft, both during and after the war, were unsuccessful.
In 2001, a team from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) located an aircraft crash site in a remote area of Papua New Guinea. A local resident gave the JPAC team human remains and four aircraft data plates that correlate to Bird’s A-20G aircraft, which he claimed to have recovered from the wreckage. All of the evidence was taken to JPAC’s laboratory in Hawaii, for analysis.
In 2011, JPAC relocated the crash site, which contained significant amounts of aircraft wreckage. JPAC has not yet completed a full excavation of the site.
To identify the remains, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools including mitochondrial DNA, which matched Bird’s sister.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died. 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 remain 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) 699-1127.
Some content for this report is from the Pacific Wrecks website.