Louisiana family finds closure after discovery of WWII plane that went missing

In 1944, just 13 days after D-Day, tragedy struck when two American B-24 bombers collided in mid-air over the Baltic Sea.

The airmen were flying in formation, closely packed together when the propeller of one plane collided with the tail of another. This unfortunate incident caused both planes to spiral out of control, leaving some of the airmen with no option but to parachute out. They eventually drifted into the waters off the coast of Denmark.

Upon his return to his family’s home in Napoleonville after the war, Boudreaux continued with his life. However, there was a lingering feeling within him that his involvement in WWII was not entirely resolved. The planes carrying his fellow airmen had crashed, but the wreckage was never discovered, leaving Boudreaux with a sense of unfinished business.

In 2019, a group of recreational divers stumbled upon what appeared to be fragments of a plane in the Baltic. Following the discovery, the Danish and American navies were notified and Trident Archeologie, a private company in the Netherlands, was enlisted to investigate the wreckage.

The Army Service Casualty Office, a unit of the Defense Department’s POW-MIA Accounting Agency (DPPA), has begun to inform the families of the airmen who were on board Lt. Boudreaux’s plane that his remains may have been discovered, based on the findings so far.

Staff Sgt. John Danneker, an 18-year-old gunner from Williamsport, Pennsylvania, was on the plane.

The DPPA collects DNA samples from family members to facilitate a positive identification process. These samples are then compared with the DNA collected from the remains of a deceased servicemember.

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Once the samples are confirmed to be a match, the family has the option to request the DPPA to either leave the remains at their current location, send them home for a private burial, or bury them in a Defense Department cemetery. The best part is that there are no charges incurred by the family for any of these options.

According to Greg Gardner, the Branch Chief of the Army Service Casualty Office, it is imperative that we provide answers to the families affected. “We owe these families answers,” he emphasizes.

Since Congress commissioned it in 2012, the Defense Department has been actively searching for the remains of those who served in World War II. Although the Department has been searching for the remains of those who served in Vietnam and Korea for years, it was only in 2012 that the search for WWII remains began.

According to Gardner, the number of unaccounted for servicemembers from WWII is estimated to be between 65-70,000.

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MBS Staff
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