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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Coming home: Lost WWII pilot ID'd, to be buried at Fort Leavenworth

  • A U.S. military veteran lost in World War II is being returned to his family after being gone for nearly seven decades.
    The remains of Second Lt. Verne L. Gibb, U.S. Army Air Forces, have been identified and he will be buried with full military honors Wednesday at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery, according to a news release from the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office in Arlington, Va.
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  • A U.S. military veteran lost in World War II is being returned to his family after being gone for nearly seven decades.
    The remains of Second Lt. Verne L. Gibb, U.S. Army Air Forces, have been identified and he will be buried with full military honors Wednesday at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery, according to a news release from the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office in Arlington, Va.
    Gibb, from Topeka, was a 22-year-old pilot of a C-47B Skytrain aircraft on a "routine" cargo flight from Myitkyina, Burma to Chabua, India on Oct. 23, 1945.
    Three crew members and two passengers were also on the flight.
    "The weather along the route was unfavorable and the aircraft was never seen again," the release states.
    More than 60 aerial search missions were flown to recover the crew and passengers, but the crash site was never located.
    All six men were declared dead.
    However, Gibb's remains were found, though it was a lengthy process before they were turned over to U.S. officials.
    A Burmese national reportedly found Gibb's remains 30 years ago and gave them to a local priest, the POW/Missing Personnel Office states. The priest gave the remains to an American school teacher in  2002.
    The remains were then turned over to the U.S. Defense Attaché in Rangoon, Burma, and next to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command.
    Scientists used "circumstantial" evidence and forensic  tools such as mitochondrial DNA to match the remains with Gibb's sister's DNA.
    Cemetery Director William Owensby said Wednesday's service will begin at 10:30 a.m. at the interment shelter, and is open to the public.
    Gibb has a daughter in the Kansas City, Kan., area. Family members have not been available for comment about their late relative.
    "This is still very hard on them," Owensby said.
    There are 23,625 burial sites at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery, Owensby said.
    More than 15 million Americans served in World War II, and more than 400,000 died.
    Of that figure, the remains of more than 73,000 servicemen have never been recovered.
    "Keeping the Promise,' 'Fulfill their Trust,' and 'No one left behind' are several of many mottos that refer to the efforts of the Department of Defense to recover those who became missing while serving our nation," according to the POW/Missing Personnel Office website.
    "Hundreds of Defense Department men and women … are working in organizations around the world as part of DoD's personnel recovery and personnel accounting communities.
    "They are all dedicated to the single mission of finding and bringing our missing personnel home."
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