US WWII pilot's remains found after 70 years
Second Lieutenant Stephen Biezis is finally going home to the United States, 70 years after he died battling German fighter planes in the Second World War.
The US Department of Defense announced on Thursday that Biezis' remains in Germany had been identified and would soon be traveling back to his family in the United States to be buried.
On December 23rd 1944, the Air Force second lieutenant from Chicago was deployed with his crew of five to Germany on a bombing mission.
While flying over Ahrweiler in Rhineland-Palatinate, their plane was hit by German fire and crashed, killing five of the men.
One of the crew members managed to parachute down from the aircraft, but was captured by German soldiers. When he was released, he reported that he did not know what happened to his comrades.
Investigators following up at the end of the war found the crash site near Manderscheid and Bettenfeld, but only recovered the remains of two of the crewmen.
A further search in 1999 began at the crash site after two Germans came forward, saying they had researched the crash site and found remains. But Biezis was still not identified in this recovery effort.
It would be another twelve years before a further investigation was launched between 2011 and 2014. Members of the US Department of Defense traveled to Bettenfeld and checked the DNA of the remains they found there against Beizis' sister and cousin.
Finally, they found a match.
More than 70 years after the crash, Biezis will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on August 14th with full military honours.
There are still around 73,000 American servicemen unaccounted for who died or went missing in the Second World War.