A team from Cranfield University in Bedfordshire has brought closure to the family of US Army Air Forces (USAAF) 2nd Lt Gilbert Haldeen Myers, a World War II co-pilot missing for over eight decades.
The mission took the team to Sicily, where Myers’ B-25 Mitchell bomber crashed in July 1943, and the discovery of his remains has finally provided answers to a family that has waited patiently for resolution.
Gilbert Haldeen Myers, a 27-year-old co-pilot from Pittsburgh, was part of a mission to attack the Sciacca Aerodrome in Sicily, Italy, flying from Tunisia.
Tragically, his B-25 Mitchell bomber was brought down by anti-aircraft fire. Despite initial search efforts in 1947, Myers was one of the 72,000 US personnel still unaccounted for from World War II.
The Cranfield University team, consisting of experts from the Recovery and Identification of Conflict Casualties team (CRICC) and the US Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Agency (DPAA), embarked on a journey to Sicily, determined to solve the mystery surrounding Myers’ disappearance.
After a meticulous examination of the impact zone and tonnes of soil, the investigators announced a breakthrough in October. Parts of the wreckage were located alongside human remains, which were later confirmed to belong to 2nd Lt Myers through DNA analysis in the United States.
Dr. David Errickson, a senior lecturer in Archaeology and Anthropology at Cranfield Forensic Institute, described the excavation site as a “challenging environment.” The team employed innovative techniques such as “wet screening,” a process involving passing materials through water to separate and analyze human remains and artifacts.
Forensic Scientists Unearth Missing WWII Co-Pilot
The recovery of 2nd Lt Myers’ remains holds immense significance beyond solving a historical mystery. Dr. Errickson emphasized that it allows for a proper military honors burial and enables the family to receive any personal effects.
Most importantly, it brings closure to the families of those missing or killed in action, offering solace after decades of uncertainty.
In a poignant moment ahead of Remembrance Day, 2nd Lt Gilbert Haldeen Myers was laid to rest in St Petersburg, Florida, on November 10th.
The ceremony paid tribute to a brave serviceman who made the ultimate sacrifice, ensuring that his memory and the sacrifices of many others are honored with the dignity they deserve.
The successful recovery of 2nd Lt Gilbert Haldeen Myers’ remains stands as a testament to the advancements in forensic science and the dedication of those committed to bringing closure to families of missing wartime heroes.
As we reflect on the solemnity of Remembrance Day, Myers’ story reminds us of the enduring impact of war on individuals and their families and the importance of honoring and remembering those who served.