U.S. Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Alvin Beethe

Missing WWII P-38 Pilot Accounted For

U.S. Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Alvin Beethe. (Credit: DoD)
U.S. Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Alvin Beethe. (Credit: DoD)

The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced today that the remains of a missing World War II U.S. serviceman have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors, according to a DoD news release.

Beethe, of the 9th Air Force’s 393rd Fighter Squadron, 367th Fighter Group, was the pilot of a P-38 Lightning aircraft that failed to return from a bombing mission against enemy forces near Duren, Germany, Nov. 26, 1944.U.S. Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Alvin Beethe of Elk Creek, Nebraska, will be buried June 8 in Arlington National Cemetery, the release said.

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Another U.S. aircraft on the same mission reported that Beethe’s aircraft crashed near the town of Morschenich, located about 45 miles south of Dusseldorf. Beethe was reported killed in action and his remains were not recovered.

Location of Crash Site

Following the war, the American Graves Registration Command conducted investigations on the loss of Beethe and successfully located his crash site. However, no remains were recovered at that time.

In 2008, DoD was notified that private citizens in Germany had located the wartime crash site. A DoD team traveled to Morschenich and surveyed the purported site. In June 2013 another DoD team excavated the site and recovered human remains and aircraft wreckage.

To identify Beethe’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used forensic identification tools to include two forms of DNA analysis; mitochondrial DNA, which matched his cousin, and Y-chromosome Short Tandem Repeat DNA, which matched his nephew.