- Posted October 10, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Home and Away: Remembering the fallen
Missing WWII Fighter Pilot Comes Home
WWII SOLDIER IDENTIFIED
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, from World War II, have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army 1st Lt. Robert G. Fenstermacher, 23, of Scranton, Pa., will be buried on Oct. 18, in his hometown. On Dec. 26, 1944, Fenstermacher was a pilot of a P-47D Thunderbolt that was on an armed-reconnaissance mission against targets in Germany, when his aircraft crashed, near Petergensfeld, Belgium.
During the crash a U.S. military officer reported seeing Fenstermacher’s aircraft crash. Reaching the site shortly after impact, he recovered Fenstermacher’s identification tags from the burning wreckage. No remains or aircraft wreckage was recovered from the crash site at that time. Fenstermacher was declared killed in action.
Following the war, the U.S. Army Graves Registration Service (AGRS) investigated and interviewed a local Belgian woman who told team that an aircraft crashed into the side of her house. The team searched the surrounding area but was unsuccessful locating the crash site.
In 2012 a group of local historians excavated a private yard in Petergensfeld, Belgium, recovering human remains and aircraft wreckage consistent with a P-47D.
The remains were turned over to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC). To identify the remains, scientists from JPAC used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools such as dental comparisons, which matched Fenstermacher’s records.
There are more than 400,000 American service
members that were killed during WWII, and
the remains of more than 73,000 were never recovered or identified.
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) 699-1169.
The great people of History Flight conducted a major portion of the recovery operations of this site. To review the recovery in detail please visit their website and navigate your way to the P-47 link. I also used one of their photos for this press release.