After 73 Years, Remains of WWII Soldiers May Come Home

Divers retrieved possible human remains from a sunken WWII bomber
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 17, 2017 11:58 PM CDT
Divers Retrieve Possible Remains from WWII Bomber
Underwater video shots from the Tulsamerican Recovery Project.   (Vimeo: NPS Submerged Resources Center)

The bodies of three soldiers who were never recovered from a sunken WWII aircraft may finally get their homecoming. LiveScience reports that possible human remains were recovered from a B-24 bomber nicknamed the Tulsamerican that crashed off the coast of Croatia toward the end of the war, some 73 years ago. Damaged during battle with the German air force, the aircraft lost power and crashed into the Adriatic Sea. While seven of its passengers were rescued, three airmen were never found. Per KTUL, when the wreckage was discovered in 2010, finding those soldiers became a project many were drawn to, including assistant DA Kevin Gray of Tulsa (where the bomber was manufactured). "You've got people spending millions of dollars trying to find Amelia Earhart," Gray says. "This is our own Amelia Earhart."

Coordinated by the US military's Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, the recovery effort was launched soon after the wreck’s discovery to head off looting. Dr. Brendan Foley, an underwater archaeologist from Lund University, called the recovery "incredibly emotional" and "the most worthwhile thing we've ever done underwater." In an interview with LiveScience, he described the nose portion of the plane "almost peeled open like a banana" from the impact of the crash, but said parts like seats were still distinguishable in the two sections found 135 feet below the surface. Along with any materials that resembled bone (that will undergo DNA testing), the divers brought back soil where artifacts may be buried as well as equipment and clothes that could belong to the servicemen. The US Embassy Zagreb thanked the Croatian government for its assistance on Facebook, linking to stunning video footage of the recovery efforts. (A hiker spotted this WWII crash in India.)

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