Missing World War II Airman’s Remains Identified

Defense Department forensic scientists have identified the remains of Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Emil T. Wasilewski, who had been missing in action since World War II, announced the Pentagon June 25. Wasilewski will be buried with full military honors on June 26 at Arlington National Cemetery, Va., according to DOD’s release. The Chicago native was one of nine crew members aboard a B-17G Flying Fortress bomber that crashed near Neustaedt-on-the-Werra, Germany, on Sept. 13, 1944. One crewman parachuted out of the bomber before it crashed; the Germans buried the other eight airmen in a cemetery in Neustaedt. Following the war, US personnel recovered the remains of one of those eight before Cold War tensions restricted access to eastern Germany. In 1991, a German grave digger discovered a metal US military identification tag in the cemetery. This led to DOD forensic scientists excavating the site in 2008 and recovering human remains and military equipment that made Wasilewski’s identification possible.