How a Lost US Airman Might Come Home, 71 Years Later

Tom McCaslin's plane crashed in France in 1944
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 31, 2015 9:00 PM CDT
Family Hopes DNA Will Bring Home Airman, 71 Years Later
A US Army Air Force B-26 bomber in flight.   (Wikimedia Commons)

Tom McCaslin's family still hopes he'll come home, 71 years after his B-26 bomber crashed in a field in France. "I think everybody in the family would feel better," says his brother, Joseph McCaslin, one of four surviving siblings who've longed for his return.
Now DNA evidence may finally make it happen, the Omaha World-Herald reports. Officials asked Joseph for a DNA sample a few weeks ago, saying it was just routine, but last fall a British relic hunter found a scapula fragment and finger bones near where Tom's plane went down in 1944. And a coffin bearing the case number of McCaslin and his crew has arrived at the Offutt Air Force Base identification lab in Nebraska, which is run by the newly minted Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

What's more, the agency is under pressure to identify more MIA remains with its increased $100 million budget, the World-Herald reports. Then there's the crash site itself, where remains have been found twice before—once right after World War II and then in 1986. "We have found remains three separate times over the last seven decades," says an MIA identification expert who's visited the location near Caen, France. "Why don't we go back and excavate the site?" McCaslin's family would doubtless agree: Several of them went there in 1995 and held a mass in Tom's honor. "That was one of the highlights of my life," says Tom's youngest brother, Rev. Patrick McCaslin, 79. "It may not matter to some, but it certainly matters to us." (More World War II stories.)

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