The remains of a missing World War II Army pilot have been returned to his Nebraska family for burial with full military honors.
The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has announced the remains of U.S. Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Alvin Beethe of Elk Creek were found near where his plane went down close to Morschenich, Germany, about 45 miles south of Dusseldorf.
Beethe had been reported killed in action when his remains were not recovered.
Beethe will be buried June 8th in Arlington National Cemetery, according to the Defense Department.
Beethe was with the 9th Air Force’s 393rd Fighter Squadron, 367th Fighter Group. He was the pilot of a P-38 Lightning aircraft that failed to return from a bombing mission near Duren, Germany on November 26th of 1944, near the end of the war.
A fellow pilot on the mission with Beethe reported Beethe’s plane crashed near Morschenich.
After the war, the American Graves Registration Command searched both for the crash site and the remains of Beethe, but the search proved futile.
In 2008, Defense Department officials got word that private citizens in Germany had located the crash site. A Defense team traveled to the site, then in June of 2013, another Defense team began excavation of the site, recovering both aircraft wreckage and human remains.
The Defense Department reports a detailed scientific method identified the remains of Beethe.
According to the DoD, scientists from DPAA and the 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.
Sixteen million Americans served in World War II. More than 400,000 died. More than 73,000 remain unaccounted for.