Nebraska Airman to Be Buried Monday, 70+ Years After His WWII Death

June 7, 2015 - 6:30am

After more than 70 years, there’s closure this week for the family of a Nebraska man killed in Germany during World War II.


2nd Lt. Alvin Beethe (courtesy photo)

 


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

"Soldier Missing from WWII Accounted For (Beethe)" - news release

Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

2nd Lt. Alvin Beethe of Elk Creek, Nebraska, was an Army Air Forces fighter pilot with the 393rd Fighter Squadron, 367th Fighter Group, 9th Air Force. On Nov. 26, 1944, the 23-year-old Beethe was piloting his P-38 Lightning, providing escort for bombers during a mission near Duren, in western Germany. His plane failed to return home, and another U.S. aircraft in the mission reported Beethe’s aircraft crashed near the town of Morschenich. Beethe was reported killed in action and his remains were not recovered.

After the war, the American Graves Registration Command investigated the crash and successfully located Beethe’s crash site, but didn’t find his remains. A new effort started in 2008, after German citizens notified the U.S. Department of Defense about the crash site. After an initial survey, a DOD team excavated the site in June 2013, and recovered human remains and aircraft wreckage.

To identify Beethe’s remains, scientists from Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used forensic identification tools to include two forms of DNA analysis (mitochondrial DNA, which matched his cousin and Y-chromosome Short Tandem Repeat DNA, which matched his nephew).

Beethe’s remains were returned to his family for burial with full military honors. He will be buried Monday, June 8, at Arlington National Cemetery.

More than 400,000 Americans died serving during World War II. More than 73,000 are still unaccounted for from the conflict.

Editor's Note:  Information for this story provided by Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency Public Affairs.

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