US airmen, friends, and dignitaries gathered Feb. 20 at the Henri-Chappelle American Cemetery and Memorial in Belgium to honor an Army Air Forces B-24 bomber crew of nine who were listed missing in action more than 60 years ago and whose remains were finally recovered in 2002 near Berlin. (US Joint POW Accounting Command formally identified the remains in 2007; all nine are listed in this earlier Daily Report item.) The search for the nine airmen of McMurray Crew 801, part of the 492nd Bombardment Group, took four years for German native Enrico Schwartz, who works for an IBM company and is a member of the Allied Aircrew Research Team. During the 45-minute ceremony, US airmen from units in Germany and Italy, hailing from the home states of the WWII airmen, placed rosettes next to the engraved names of the nine airmen to signify they were no longer MIA. Michigan native SSgt. Melissa Johnson said, “It’s just unbelievable after this many years that they’re finally being given the proper respect.” TSgt. Tommy Van, one of the event organizers, noted that the “most rewarding thing for me has been getting in contact with the families and learning the history.” (52nd Fighter Wing report by 2nd Lt. Kathleen Polesnak)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.