World War II Fighter Squadron Veteran’s Remains Return Home for Burial

Left: John D. Mumford Right: a B-17 Flying Fortresses during a bombing run over Germany.
Left: John D. Mumford Right: a B-17 Flying Fortresses during a bombing run over Germany.

Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. John D. Mumford of St. Petersburg, Florida, was 22 when he went missing in action during World War II. On June 6, 1944, his squadron, the 318th Fighter Squadron, 325th Fighter Group, 15th Air Force, were escorting the 5th Bombardment Wing’s B-17 “Flying Fortress” bombers as they flew to bomb a German airfield in Galati, Romania.

They successfully completed the bombing run and were heading back to base when they were attacked by German fighter planes.

Mumford was pursuing two German fighters when he was last seen by his fellow pilots. Villagers in nearby Novotroyan, now known as Novi Troyany, Ukraine, noticed two airplanes with US markings chasing several German planes. One of the two US planes crashed in a nearby field.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) has announced that Mumford’s remains have been positively identified and will be returned to the States for burial with full military honors.

In 2008 and 2010, people associated with organizations that preceded the DPAA visited Novi Troyany and interviewed villagers who had seen the crash. They were able to determine that the plane that crashed would have been Mumford’s and inspected the site of the crash in the preparation of a future excavation, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency reported.

In July and August of 2016, the DPAA worked with the National Museum of Military History of Ukraine to excavate the site.

400,000 of the 16 million Americans that served in World War II were killed during the war. There are currently 73,076 service members that have not been accounted for.

Ian Harvey

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