Army Air Forces Crew – 27 March 1944

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U.S. Department of Defense

Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Release
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IMMEDIATE RELEASE  No. 411-06
May 8, 2006

Missing WWII Airmen are Identified

The Defense POW/Missing Personnel (DPMO) announced today that two members of a four-man Army Air Forces crew missing in action from World War II have been identified, and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

The four are pilot Captain Douglas R. Wight of Westfield, New Jersey; co-pilot First Lisutenant Herbert W. Evans of Rapid City South Dakota; crew chief Corporal John W. Hanlon of Arnett, Oklahoma; and radio operator Private First Class Gerald L. Rugers, Jr., of Tacoma, Washington.  Evans and Rugers were individually identified, while group remains of all four will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, May 9, 2006.

On March 27, 1944, a C-46 crewed by these four airmen departed a base in Kunming, China, on route to Sookerating, India, as part of the massive allied resupply missions over the Himalayan Mountains, referred to as the “Hump.”  En route one of the crewmen called out for a bearing, suggesting the aircraft was lost.  There was no further communication with the crew.  The aircraft never reached its destination, and searches during and following World War II failed to locate the crash site.

Officials from the People’s Republic of China notified the U.S. in early 2001 that the wreckage of an American WWII aircraft had been found on Meiduobai Mountain in a remote area of Tibet.  The following year, a joint U.S.-P.R.C. team, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), excavated the site where they found human remains, aircraft debris and personal items related to the crew.

JPAC scientists and Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory specialists used mitochondrial DNA as one of the forensic tools to help identify the remains.  Laboratory analysis of dental remains also confirmed their identifications.

Douglas R. Wight

Captain, U.S. Army Air Forces
Service # 0-793471
India-China Wing, Air Transport Command
Entered the Service from: New Jersey
Died: 27-Mar-44
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery
Manila, Philippines
Awards: Air Medal

Herbert W. Evans

First Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Forces
Service # 0-740778
India-China Wing, Air Transport Command
Entered the Service from: South Dakota
Died: 27-Mar-44
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery
Manila, Philippines

John W. Hanlon

CORPORAL, U.S. Army Air Forces
Service # 38269554
India-China Wing, Air Transport Command
Entered the Service from: Oklahoma
Died: 27-Mar-44
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery
Manila, Philippines

Gerard L. Rugers, Jr.

Private First Class, U.S. Army Air Forces
Service # 39180415
India-China Wing, Air Transport Command
Entered the Service from: Washington
Died: 27-Mar-44
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery
Manila, Philippines
Awards: Air Medal

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