Seven WWII Airmen buried at Arlington National Cemetery

  • Published
  • By Michael Tolzmann
  • Defense Media Activity
The remains of seven Airmen missing in action from World War II were buried July 15 at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

The Airmen are Capt. Joseph M. Olbinski, Chicago; 1st Lt. Joseph J. Auld, Floral Park, N.Y.; 1st Lt. Robert M. Anderson, Millen, Ga.; Tech. Sgt. Clarence E. Frantz, Tyrone, Pa.; Pfc. Richard M. Dawson, Haynesville, Va.; Pvt. Robert L. Crane, Sacramento, Calif.; and Pvt. Fred G. Fagan, Piedmont, Ala.; all U.S. Army Air Forces.

According to information provided by the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, the Airmen were aboard a C-47A Skytrain that departed Dinjan, India, May 23, 1944, on an airdrop mission to resupply Allied forces near Myitkyina, Burma. When the crew failed to return, air and ground searches found no evidence of the aircraft along the intended flight path.

Fifty-eight years later, a missionary provided U.S. officials a data plate from a C-47 crash site, located approximately 31 miles northwest of Myitkyina. And in 2003, a Burmese citizen turned over human remains and identification tags for three of the crewmembers.

A Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command team excavated the crash site in 2003 and 2004, recovering remains and equipment. Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used mitochondrial DNA, which matched some of the crewmembers' families, as well as dental comparisons in the identification of the remains.

Two caskets were used. Lieutenant Auld's remains were individually identified and buried separately in a gravesite adjacent to a group burial site for all of the others. Another casket contained remains that were positively identified to be Anderson along with co-mingled group remains that could not be individually identified. A marker with the names of all crewmembers will be placed at the gravesite.

Family members from six of the seven Airmen were present for internment that took place in Section 60, an active burial section of Arlington National Cemetery. The section is approximately two-thirds full, with burials taking place there almost daily. Veterans from many different eras, including World War II, Korea and Vietnam, are buried in this section, alongside the servicemembers killed in the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.