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WWII MIA Wichita Airman Coming Home

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Gavin Hameed
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

On Aug. 1, 2023, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced U.S. Army Air Corps Staff Sgt. Wesley L. Jones, 22, of Wichita, killed during World War II, was accounted for.

In the summer of 1943, Jones was assigned to the 345th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 98th Bombardment Group (Heavy), 9th Air Force. On Aug. 1, 1943, the B-24 Liberator bomber on which Jones was flying was hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire and crashed during Operation TIDAL WAVE, the largest bombing mission against the Ploiești oil fields and refineries north of Bucharest, Romania. 

His remains were not identified following the war and were buried amongst the unknowns in the Hero Section of the Civilian and Military Cemetery of Bolovan, Ploiești, Prahova, Romania.

Following the war, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC) disinterred all American remains from the Bolovan Cemetery for identification. The AGRC was unable to identify more than 80 unknowns from Bolovan and those remains were interred at Ardennes American Cemetery and Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, both in Belgium.

In 2017, DPAA began exhuming unknowns believed to be associated with unaccounted-for Airmen from Operation TIDAL WAVE. These remains were sent to the agency’s laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, for examination and identification.

To identify Jones’ remains, scientists used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as chest radiograph comparison and circumstantial evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA analysis.

Jones’ 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.

Staff Sgt. Jones’ final resting place will be in Wichita, with an honors ceremony by the McConnell Air force Base honor guard on a date to be determined.