72 Years Later Remains Of Fighter Pilot Shot Down In WWII Identified: The Army Air Forces pilot from Ohio who perished when his plane was shot down over Germany during World War II has been positively recognized by authorities, the Defense Department reported on Thursday.
According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, 1st Lt. Carl Nesbitt flew a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber on May 29, 1944, during a massive bombing mission over Leipzig, Germany. The bomber was shot down when German aircraft assaulted its formation around 28 miles northeast of Leipzig.
While Nesbitt and the other five crew members perished in the plane’s accident near Horst, six of the ten crew members managed to flee. There was no proof that Nesbitt was a prisoner of war or had survived after the war, and their bodies were thought to have been interred in a nearby cemetery.
Nesbitt, 23, of Lima, Ohio, was a member of the 13th Bombardment Wing, 3rd Air Division, 8th Air Force’s 390th Bombardment Group (Heavy), and 569th Bombardment Squadron.
During a search in September 1946, the American Graves Registration Command, which tried to locate deceased military men in Europe after the war, discovered the crew member’s bones buried in a Horst cemetery.
The AGRC was unable to continue its investigation of Nesbitt after 1950 due to deteriorating diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, which at that time governed that region of Germany, and Nesbitt was ruled nonrecoverable on April 21, 1953.
A DPAA predecessor known as the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command’s investigation team discovered the crash site and gathered evidence of a B-17 accident in July 2012. The landowner granted DPAA permission to excavate in 2015, and the work was completed in the summer of 2019.
Crews located potential tangible proof and potential remains, which were later transported to a facility at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.
To identify Nesbitt’s remains, researchers employed circumstantial and physical evidence, dental and anthropological studies, mitochondrial DNA analysis, and other methods. In Annville, Pennsylvania, on May 15, he will be laid to rest.
Nesbitt was located in September of last year, according to DPAA officials, but his family didn’t get a full update on the case until recently.