3 World War II service members ID’d 7 decades after death

The Department of Defense identified the remains of Air Force 1st Lt. Howard T. Lurcott (Top, 2nd-R) and Air Force Staff Sgt. Carl M. Shaffer (Top, L), who died Jan. 21, 1944, after their B-24J bomber crashed in the Gilbert Islands. File Photo courtesy of the Department of Defense

March 13 (UPI) — Scientists have identified the remains of three service members killed more than seven decades ago during World War II, including a sailor who died during the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Defense Department announced Tuesday.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency named Navy Seaman 1st Class Joseph K. Maule, Air Force Staff Sgt. Carl M. Shaffer and Air Force 1st Lt. Howard T. Lurcott after using dental, anthropological and mitochondrial DNA analysis, and circumstantial and material evidence.

He was identified as part of a renewed effort to identify hundreds of sailors and Marines killed at Pearl Harbor and buried in unnamed graves. The DPAA began exhuming the remains in 2015 from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, also known as the Punchbowl.

Maule’s name appears on the Wall of the Missing at the Punchbowl, where a rosette will be etched next to his name to indicate his identification.

More than 2,400 people were killed in the Pearl Harbor attack that brought the United States into World War II.

Shaffer and Lurcott died Jan. 21, 1944, when the B-24J bomber they were flying in crashed into Tarawa lagoon in the Gilbert Islands shortly after takeoff. They belonged to the 38th Bombardment Squadron, 30th Bombardment Group stationed at Hawkins Field on Betio Island.

All nine service member aboard the plane died in the crash, though only five bodies were recovered, two of which were unidentified. The DPAA, in coordination with History Flight, Inc., a non-profit organization, identified Shaffer and Lurcott after exhuming their remains from a cemetery on Betio Island.

Shaffer, a native of Pottsdown, Pa., was 22 at the time of his death. Pilot Lurcott, a native of Philadelphia, was 26.


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