Airman Missing Since WWII Discovered

    The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced on Sept. 5 that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing from World War II, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors. He is 2nd Lt. Harold E. Hoskin, U.S. Army Air Forces, of Houlton, Maine. He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.

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2nd Lt. Harold E. Hoskin, shown in a 1943 photo, was buried in a ceremony Sept. 7 at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Lieutenant Hoskin was one of five men who were flying in a B-24 Liberator that crashed while on a test flight Dec. 21, 1943, out of Ladd Field in Fairbanks, Alaska. Lieutenant Hoskin’s remains were discovered in August 2006 and identified in April 2007.

    Representatives from the Army met with Hoskin’s next-of-kin to explain the recovery and identification process, and to coordinate interment with military honors on behalf of the Secretary of the Army.
   
    On Dec. 21, 1943, Hoskin was one of five crewmen on board a B-24D that departed Ladd Field in Fairbanks, Alaska, on a cold-weather test mission. The aircraft never returned to base and it was not located in subsequent search attempts. The following March, one of the crewmen, 1st Lt. Leon Crane, arrived at Ladd Field after spending more than two months in the Alaska wilderness. He said that the plane had crashed after it lost an engine, and Crane and another crewmember, Master Sgt. Richard L. Pompeo, parachuted from the aircraft before it crashed. Crane did not know what happened to Pompeo after they bailed out. 

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Harold E. Hoskin,
Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Forces
Service # 0-736523
Weather Testing Detachment, Air Transport Command
Entered the Service from: Maine
Died: 21-Dec-43

    In October 1944, Crane assisted a recovery team in locating the crash. They recovered the remains of two of the crewmen, 1st Lt. James B. Sibert and Staff Sgt. Ralph S. Wenz. Hoskin’s remains were not found and it was concluded that he probably parachuted out of the aircraft before it crashed.
   
    In 2004, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) received information from a National Park Service Historian regarding a possible WWII crash site in the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, Alaska. The historian turned over ashes believed to be the cremated remains of the crew, however, it was determined they contained no human remains. In 2006, a JPAC team excavated the site and recovered human remains and other non-biological material, including items worn by U.S. Army officers during WWII.

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Hoskin flew a B-24 bomber out of Ladd Field in Fairbanks, Alaska, on December 21, 1943. He led a crew of five assigned to test the bomber’s propeller systems in cold weather. An engine malfunctioned during the flight and sent the plane into a downward spiral, according to military documents. Search teams could not find the wreckage for months.
   
    Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used mitochondrial DNA in the identification of Hoskin’s remains.  

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Airman 1st Class Derik Hoskins salutes the flag after presenting it to Tech. Sgt. Clinton Taylor during a fallen Airmen ceremony May 28 in remembrance of Staff Sgt. John Self at Ali Air Base, Iraq. The Airmen, both members of the 407th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, were participating in the ceremony honoring the life of Sergeant Self, a security forces member assigned to the 732nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron at Camp Bucca, Iraq, who was killed May 14 by an improvised explosive device while on patrol. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Robert W. Valenca)
   
    For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO Web site at www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1169.

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Douglas Beckstead poses in front of the casket of 2nd Lt. Harold Elton Hoskin during a burial ceremony Sept. 7 at Arlington National Cemetery. Mr. Beckstead, historian for the 3rd Wing at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, was instrumental in the recovery of Lieutenant Hoskin’s remains from the crash site of a B-24 Liberator in the Alaskan wilderness. The aircraft crashed while on a test flight out of Ladd Field in Fairbanks, Alaska, Dec. 21, 1943. Lieutenant Hoskin’s remains were discovered in August 2006 and identified in April 2007. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Cohen A. Young)

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