The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced on June 23, 2015 that a U.S. serviceman, missing from World War II, has been identified and is being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Edward F. Barker, 21, of Herkimer, N.Y., will be buried Aug. 1, in his hometown. On Sept. 30, 1944, Barker was the pilot of an P-47D Thunderbolt that failed to return from a training mission in Papua New Guinea. The aircraft was last seen flying north-northwest of Finschhafen, and all search efforts failed to locate Barker and the aircraft. Barker was reported as missing when he failed to return after the mission. A military review board later amended his status to presumed dead.
In 1962, a U.S. military team discovered P-47D aircraft wreckage in the mountains of the Huan Peninsula in Morobe Province. The aircraft was correlated to Barker; however, the team found no evidence of the pilot.
From Jan. 22-25, 2002, a Department of Defense (DoD) team located the crash site, but no remains of the pilot were discovered during the survey of the site.
In late 2012, another DoD team began excavating the site. The team recovered human remains, aircraft wreckage, military gear and personal effects.
To identify Barker’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools including mitochondrial DNA, which matched his niece and nephew.