After More Than 70 Years, A WW2 Pilot From Wisconsin Is Recovered In France

Block 28 Republic P-47Ds of the 22d Fighter Squadron at Kingsnorth Airfield, England, 1944.

A group of volunteers from the UW Missing in Action Recovery and Identification Project have successfully recovered a plane that was shot down in France 72 years ago. The team of eight includes students, veterans, and anthropologists.

The plane came down in a field on May 29th, 1941. The pilot, Lieutenant Frank Fazekas was presumed dead, and the crater caused by the crash was filled in by local farmers.

In 2015 researchers began looking for the plane, based on the evidence of a witness, John Cooche, who was twelve years old at the time. He would provide equipment for the recovery of the plane. The search was about to be abandoned when a photo taken after the crash was discovered. The team could then identify the field.

A twenty-three-day dig, assisted by locals, uncovered six machine guns, each bearing the serial number of Fazeka’s plane. His son, also called Frank, anxious for news of his father, was called to the site, and the team was able to confirm the place of the crash.

Further digging revealed the cockpit and the remains of the pilot. These remains have not yet been identified as belonging to Frank Fazekas. The process could take ten months, reported.

The team hopes to be able to begin a program for recovering Wisconsin soldiers killed in World War II. It is presently applying for funds. Charles Konsitzke, the facilitator of the recovery project, says it is the organization’s mission to bring home 83,000 missing servicemen.

Ian Harvey

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