Remains Of World War II Pilot Identified After Nearly 80 Years

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An American World War II pilot killed in 1944 has been identified nearly 80 years after his remains were discovered in 2021.

First Lt. William Montgomery, was flying a B-24H Liberator over France in 1944 when his aircraft got caught up in a German bombing raid, authorities told Fox 29. The 24-year-old pilot managed to continue flying the damaged plane towards the English coast, where he ordered his crew to parachute to safety, WTAE reported. Seven of the crew did manage to successfully exit the aircraft, but three soldiers, including Montgomery were still on board when the plane crashed into a farm in West Sussex, England, the outlet stated.

In May 1950, Montgomery’s body was deemed “non-recoverable” earning his name a place on the Wall of the Missing at the Cambridge American Cemetery in the United Kingdom, Fox 29 reported.

Despite this, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency worked for decades to excavate the site of the crash, finally managing to investigate the site in 2017 and 2019, WTAE reported. In 2021, investigators found what they believed to be human remains and sent them off for analysis. Using mitochondrial data and anthropological analysis, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System were able to positively identify Montgomery, Fox 29 reported. (RELATED: Sailor Killed In Pearl Harbor Attack Identified 82 Years Later Through DNA Testing)

Though Montgomery was officially accounted for in January, his family was only just recently informed of the discovery, WTAE reported. A rosette will be placed beside Montgomery’s name on the Wall of the Missing to denote his new status as recovered and his remains will be laid to rest in a plot at Arlington Cemetery.