World War II Airman Laid to Rest

The remains of 1st Lt. John E. Terpning, a World War II bomber pilot who had been missing in action since 1944, were laid to rest with full military honors on Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery. Terpning, of Mount Prospect, Ill., was a B-24D pilot who, together with nine crewmates, went missing during a bombing mission on May 7, 1944, in Nadzab, Papua New Guinea, according to the March 29 Pentagon release announcing the identification of his remains. The bomber had experienced mechanical issues prior to takeoff, states the release. The War Department in 1946 declared Terpning and his crewmembers to be presumed dead. Recovery efforts began in 1973 with the discovery of the crash site and human remains in mountainous terrain near Nadzab. Technology at the time prevented the identification of the individual crew members so the crew was buried as a group at Arlington in 1974. In April 2008, a US team recovered wreckage and additional human remains at the crash site. Forensic scientists subsequently used dental records and mitochondrial DNA to help identify Terpning’s remains. (See also report from WUSA 9 TV news station of Washington, D.C.)