South Dakota pilot lost in WWII accounted for after 76 years
WASHINGTON — A South Dakota bomber pilot who was lost in WWII has finally been accounted for after 76 years.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced Tuesday that U.S. Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Earl F. Ferguson, 26, of Philip, South Dakota, killed during World War II, was accounted for Sept. 30, 2019.
In the summer of 1943, Ferguson was a pilot assigned to the 329th Bombardment Squadron, 93rd Bombardment Group (Heavy), 8th Air Force. On Aug. 1, 1943, the B-24 aircraft on which Ferguson was the co-pilot crashed as a result of enemy anti-aircraft fire during Operation Tidal Wave, the largest bombing mission against the oil fields and refineries at Ploiesti, north of Bucharest, Romania.
His remains were not identified following the war and were buried as Unknowns in the Hero Section of the Civilian and Military Cemetery of Bolovan, Ploiesti, Prahova, Romania.
Following the war, the American Graves Registration Command, the organization that searched for and recovered fallen American personnel, disinterred all American remains from the Bolovan Cemetery for identification. One set that could not be identified was designated Unknown X-5300 Neuville, and reinterred into the American Military Cemetery at Neuville-en-Condroz, Belgium.
In 2017, DPAA began exhuming unknowns believed to be associated with unaccounted for airmen from Operation Tidal Wave losses. On Aug. 28, 2017, Unknown X-5300 Neuville was disinterred and sent to the laboratory for analysis.
To identify Ferguson’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.
Ferguson’s name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Florence American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Impruneta, Italy, along with others still missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
Ferguson will be buried in his hometown. The date has yet to be decided. For family and funeral information, contact the Army Casualty Office at (800) 892-2490.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil, find us on social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa or call (703) 699-1420.
Ferguson’s personnel profile can be viewed at https://dpaa.secure.force.com/dpaaProfile?id=a0Jt00000004pNoEAI.