Defense Department forensic scientists identified the remains of Army Air Forces 1st Lt. James F. Gatlin, 25, of Jacksonville, Fla., an airman missing in action since 1944, announced the Pentagon. He was interred on Jan. 30 in Bushnell, Fla., in a ceremony with full military honors. On Dec. 23, 1944, Gatlin was co-pilot of a B-26C Marauder that crashed due to enemy fire near Bettenfeld. Germany, during a bombing mission against enemy forces near Ahrweiler, Germany, states DOD’s release. Gatlin and four other crew members died in the crash. A sixth crew member parachuted from the aircraft; German forces held him as a prisoner of war. Between 2011 and 2014, US recovery teams visited the crash site. Forensic identification tools, such as matching mitochondrial DNA with a family member, helped DOD to identify Gatlin’s remains. (See also Tampa Bay Times report.)
Memorial Day is a time to remember all those who died fighting for their country, just like A1C William Pitsenbarger, an Air Force pararescueman who took part in more than 250 rescue missions before he was killed at the age of 21. His selflessness and valor in the Vietnam War earned him an Air Force Cross and, eventually, a Medal of Honor.
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