B-24 Crew Went Missing In December 1943
The Department of Defense
POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced Friday the remains of
11 US servicemen, missing in action from World War II, have been
identified and will be returned to their families for burial with
full military honors.
They are Capt. Robert L. Coleman, of Wilmington, DE; 1st Lt.
George E. Wallinder, of San Antonio, TX; 2nd Lt. Kenneth L.
Cassidy, of Worcester, MA; 2nd Lt. Irving Schechner, of Brooklyn,
NY; 2nd Lt. Ronald F. Ward, of Cambridge, MA; Tech. Sgt. William L.
Fraser, of Maplewood, MO; Tech. Sgt. Paul Miecias, of Piscataway,
NJ; Tech. Sgt. Robert C. Morgan, of Flint, MI; Staff Sgt. Albert J.
Caruso, of Kearny, NJ; Staff Sgt. Robert E. Frank, of Plainfield,
NJ; and Pvt. Joseph Thompson, of Compton, CA; all US Army Air
Forces. The dates and locations of the funerals are being set by
Representatives from the Army met with the next-of-kin of these
men in their hometowns to explain the recovery and identification
process and to coordinate interment with military honors on behalf
of the secretary of the Army.
On December 3, 1943, these men crewed a B-24D Liberator that
departed Dobodura, New Guinea, on an armed-reconnaissance mission
over New Hanover Island in the Bismarck Sea. The crew reported
dropping their bombs on target, but in spite of several radio
contacts with their base, they never returned to Dobodura.
Subsequent searches failed to locate the aircraft.
In 2000, three Papua New Guineans were hunting in the forest
when they came across aircraft wreckage near Iwaia village. The
Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) was notified and began
planning an investigation. In 2002, a JPAC team traveled to Deboin
Village to interview two individuals who said they knew where the
crash site was. However, the witnesses could not relocate the
In 2004, the site was found about four miles from Iwaia village
in Papua New Guinea where a JPAC team found an aircraft data plate
that correlated to the 1943 crash. Between 2004 and 2007, JPAC
teams conducted two excavations of the site and recovered human
remains and non-biological material including some crew-related
artifacts such as identification tags.