Missing World War II Airmen Accounted For

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 1, 2014 - The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced that the remains of missing World War II servicemen have been accounted for and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors, according to a DoD news release issued today.

Army Air Forces 1st Lts. William D. Bernier of Augusta, Montana; Bryant E. Poulsen of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Herbert V. Young Jr. of Clarkdale, Arizona; Tech Sgts. Charles L. Johnston of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Hugh F. Moore of Elkton, Maryland; Staff Sgts. John E. Copeland of Dearing, Kansas and Charles J. Jones of Athens, Georgia; and Sgt. Charles A. Gardner of San Francisco, California, have been accounted for and will be buried with full military honors. Gardner will be buried Dec. 4, 2014, in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.


On April 10, 1944, Gardner, along with 11 other B-24D Liberator crew members, took off from Texter Strip, Nazdab Air Field, New Guinea, on a mission to attack an anti-aircraft site at Hansa Bay. The aircraft was shot down by enemy anti-aircraft fire over the Madang Province, New Guinea. Four of the crewmen were able to parachute from the aircraft, but were reported to have died in captivity. 

Following World War II, the Army Graves Registration Service conducted investigations and recovered the remains of three of the missing airmen. In May 1949, AGRS concluded the remaining nine crew members were unrecoverable. 

In 2001, a U.S.-led team located wreckage of a B-24D that bore the tail number of this aircraft. After several surveys, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command teams excavated the site and recovered human remains and non-biological material evidence. 

To identify Gardner's remains, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including mitochondrial DNA, which matched Gardner's maternal niece and nephew.