WASHINGTON D.C.: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has announced that 2nd Lt. James Litherland of South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, an Army Air Force pilot killed at the age of 25 during World War II, has been identified.
Authorities said that in February 1944, Litherland was co-piloting a B-17F Flying Fortress that was struck by anti-aircraft fire after a bombing raid on a German V-2 rocket site in Bois-Coquerel, France.
Three airmen parachuted to safety, but Litherland and six other crew members were still on board when the plane crashed near Le Translay, France, authorities said.
Six sets of remains were recovered near the crash site, but only five were identified. In 2018, more material was recovered from the crash site and the unknown remains were exhumed from a cemetery in France. Dental and anthropological analysis and DNA evidence was used to identify the remains as those of Litherland, officials said.
PennLive.com reported that Litherland's daughter, Suzanne Walker, called the efforts to identify his remains "amazing."
"That was the biggest surprise. I never expected it, she said, adding she has little memorabilia about her father and hopes someone comes forward with pictures or other items.
Litherland will be laid to rest in Williamsport.
Walker said she had the option of having her father buried in France, but "wanted him to be with his family," as his father and grandfather are buried in Wildwood Cemetery, where there is a headstone for him.
Literland's name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at Ardennes American Cemetery in Neupre, Belgium, along with others still missing from WWII. Military authorities say a rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate that he has at last been accounted for.