The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced on 11th June that the remains of two U.S. servicemen, missing since World War II, have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
- HERB, John William, Second Lieutenant, Pilot distinguished with Flying Cross, Air Medal and Purple Heart. He was flying "Mary Lou" on that last mission.
First of Them is U.S. Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. John W. Herb, 22, of Cleveland, will be buried June 18, in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington D.C. 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.
Detailed action report: At 16.30 my flight, wich consisted of Lt's Bergber Marson, Herb and myself spotted numerous enemy aircraft parked in an open space adjecent to a wooded area south of Neumunster, Germany. We made several passes on these parked e/a and destroyed twelve of them. Lt. Herb flew too close to the trees while making this attack, and tore his collant scoop off. His ship was unable to gain altitude due to this damage, so the flight headed for friendly territory. In vicinity N/W of Hamburg Lt. Herb's engine quit and he tried to crash land his ship in an open field, but approximately 30 yards away he crashed into some trees, fell to the ground and burned. I believe Lt. Herb was killed.
In 1950, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC) investigated Herb’s loss, but were unsuccessful in finding his remains.
In June 2014, a Department of Defense (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 DoD 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.
COLLINS, Jimmie D III, Second Lieutenant, Co-Pilot distinguished with Air Medal and Purple Heart.
Army Air Force 2nd Lt. Jimmie D. Collins III, 22, of Sylacauga, Ala., will be buried June 29, in his hometown. On June 21, 1944, Collins was assigned to the 707th Bomber Squadron, 446th Bomber Group, Heavy, 8th Air Force. He was the co-pilot of a B-24H Liberator that crashed near Hoofddorp, Netherlands, while returning from a bombing mission against German forces near Berlin. Also aboard the aircraft were nine other servicemen. During the crash one of the servicemen was able to parachute from the Liberator, was captured by German forces, and later returned to U.S. custody. All other servicemen, including Collins, were reported as killed in action.
Detailed action report: In the target area the pilot called to other members of his formation and stated that he was low on gasoline. It appears, however, that the ship continued on the return trip with the formation but at 53´55´N 06´17 E, they dropped out of the formation evidently to proceed on its own. One hour after passing afore designated point the ship was again heard on the radio with the pilot of the missing aircraft reporting that he was on a 260 degrees heading and asking for a ´QDM´. While the pilot was attempting to get this navigational aid, the use of the channel he was on by ships of the 448th Bomb Group prohibited his message from being received by a ground station or else prohibited or hindered receipt or requested ´QDM´. When one aircraft was some 25 minutes flying time east of the North sea, it heard via radio the missing ship asking someone for traffic directions. This was the last word heard from the aircraft. The Liberator was shot down about 3 km South West of Zwanenburg, 13 km SW of Amsterdam at about 12.55 hrs.
After the war, analysis of captured German records revealed the remains of seven American servicemen were recovered from the crash site and buried in a cemetery in Hoofddorp. The U.S. Army Graves Registration Services (AGRS) personnel exhumed the remains, and identified the seven servicemen, leaving only Collins and the one other serviceman unaccounted for.
Between February 1946 and July 1947, the AGRS conducted investigations in the vicinity of the crash. No additional remains were recovered at that time. On Sept. 20, 1950, an Army Graves Registration Command (AGRC) review board declared the remains to be non-recoverable.
In September 1992, a brother of one of the crew visited the Netherlands to learn more about the crash, where he spoke to a third party researcher who believed remains of the missing crew men may still be present at the site.
A grave registration team from the United States Army Memorial Affairs Activity-Europe visited the possible crash site near a village in Vijfhuizen, Haarlemmermeer, Netherlands, and located large metal objects underground using metal detectors.
Due to policy within the Netherlands, a Royal Netherlands Air Force Recovery Service (RNLAF) salvage team carried out the excavation of the site in April 1997 with oversight from the Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii. They were able to recover remains and personal effects.
To identify Collins’ remains, scientists from the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools including mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which matched his aunt and uncle.