Remains of missing World War II pilot from Benson identified in France

Remains of missing World War II pilot from Benson identified in France

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Remains of missing World War II pilot from Benson identified in France

The traces of a Western Minnesota pilot of World War II who was killed 75 years ago during the D-Day have been identified.

On Wednesday, the Defense POW / MIA Accounting Agency announced the remains of U.S. Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. William J. McGowan, 23, of Benson, was identified on May 13.

Remains of missing World War II pilot from Benson identified in France
U.S. Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. William J. McGowan is shown in an undated photo from the World War II era. Killed in a plane crash in France during the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944, his remains have been identified.

McGowan will be buried July 26 at the Normandy American Cemetery in France.

McGowan was a 391st Fighter Squadron member, 366th Fighter Group, 9th United States Air Force. Air force. On the day of the D day, when the P47 Thunderbolt crashed on a mission near the city of Saint-Lô, France, he was killed June 6, 1944.

In 1947, based on information from a French citizen, the American Graves Registration Command investigated a crash site near the village of Moon-sur-Elle that was possibly associated with McGowan’s loss.

An investigator traveled to the site and learned from witnesses that the aircraft burned for more than a full day after impact and it had been embedded deeply into the ground.

A Defense Department team removed wreckage from the impact crater but failed to locate McGowan’s remains. As a result, on Dec. 23, 1947, his remains were declared nonrecoverable.

In 2010, a team from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Agency traveled to Moon-sur-Elle to interview witnesses and survey the crash site. During the survey, the team found numerous pieces of aircraft debris and recommended the site for excavation.

In July and August 2018, excavation of the site led to possible remains, which were sent to the DPAA laboratory for analysis.

Dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence, were used to identify McGowan’s remains.

McGowan’s name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Normandy American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Colleville-Sur-Mer, France.

A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently, there are 72,639 service members still unaccounted for from World War II with approximately 30,000 assessed as possibly recoverable.


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