DOD’s POW/Missing Personnel Office announced Oct. 21 that it has identified the remains of 2nd Lt. Ray D. Packard, declared missing following the crash of his P-38 on Aug. 25, 1944 during an engagement with enemy fighters over Beauvais, France. Packard, of Atwood, Calif., was one of 22 P-38 pilots en route from St. Lambert, France, to attack German-held airfields near Laon-Chambry, France. More than 80 German fighters intercepted them, shooting down 11 P-38s. Five of the pilots escaped, two were taken prisoner, and four were missing. Officials later recovered and identified the remains of three, but it would be 2006 before a Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command team tracked down human remains recovered by a French citizen in 1951 and recovered other remains from another French citizen who searches for aircraft wreckage. JPAC teams then conducted excavations in 2006 and 2007, recovering among other items, Packard’s ID tag.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.