World War II Airman’s Remains Identified

Defense Department forensic scientists have identified the remains of 1st Lt. Robert G. Fenstermacher, 23, of Scranton, Pa., an airman who died in a crash in Belgium during World War II, announced the Pentagon. DOD officials are returning Fenstermacher’s remains to his family for burial with full military honors on Oct. 18 in Arlington National Cemetery, Va., according to the Pentagon’s Oct. 11 release. Fenstermacher’s P-47D Thunderbolt went down near Petergensfeld, Belgium, on Dec. 26, 1944, during an armed reconnaissance mission against targets in Germany. A US military officer recovered Fenstermacher’s identification tags from the burning wreckage at the crash site and the US military declared Fenstermacher killed in action. In 2012, a group of local historians excavated a private yard in Petergensfeld, recovering human remains and aircraft wreckage that they turned over to DOD. The forensic scientists used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, such as dental comparisons, to help identify the remains.