Remains of WWII Pilot Discovered

Lieutenant First Class Louis Longman was an American fighter pilot whose live was lost during WWII. Now, his remains have been found in New Guinea, where he completed his final escort mission. The mission was to escort a B-25 bomber over a region of New Guinea, but following the mission’s completion Longman disappeared. He had been fighting major thunderstorms late in the mission, and it was already suspected that his plane had gone down as a result. His remains had never been found, however, and the search for them ceased for some time following the end of WWII.

The day on which Longman was lost is referred to as Black Sunday, due to the loss of over fifty other airmen as well.  It would not be until the year 2005, almost sixty years after he was declared dead in 1946, that the search was again to commence at the behest of JPAC, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command. Remains were located in New Guinea as a result of their search, and their forensic teams have been investigating them for evidence of a link to WWII ever since.

Their investigation began to pay off in 2011, when the WWII link was found through the existence of a report concerning the missing planes and crew members of Black Sunday. It was discovered that the site at which they found the remains linked up with the locations listed on the report. This was further backed up by the fact that the body was found in a Lockheed P-38J Lightning, the same type of plane which Longman piloted.

Longman had led a relatively normal life until he joined the service in 1942. His training was complete by the following year, and he was ready to report for active duty in WWII. He was to engage in missions in the Pacific Theater, a locale in which many lives were lost over the course of the war. Longman’s immediate family—including his brother, who also went MIA but survived—was by and large deceased by the time his remains were uncovered, the Oskaloosa News reports.

The young WWII pilot’s remains will now be delivered to his home state of Iowa, with a commemoration ceremony to follow. The Iowa National Guard will be present at the memorial, which is to be open to the public should they wish to attend. Longman received multiple honors during his short WWII career, and the return of his remains to native soil will be his final commemoration, one which many unfortunate soldiers lost in the war still have yet to receive.


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE