Can a person be found 80 years after he disappeared? While this seems unlikely, it is not impossible. Scientists and researchers who conducted work in Italian Sicily convinced us of this. It was there that he and many of his companions disappeared Gilbert Haldeen Myersone of the American pilots of World War II.
Myers and five of his companions crashed in a B-25 bomber in July 1943 about a mile from Sciacca Airfield. It was already certain that none of the soldiers survived the disaster. Despite this, the bodies of the injured were not found for years. However, this has changed thanks to the US Prisoner of War and Missing in Action Accounting Agency (DPAA) and Cranfield University’s Conflict Victim Recovery and Identification Team (CRICC).
As a result of the researchers’ work, they managed to find and identify the remains that belonged to Myers – 80 years after his death.
The aim of the researchers’ work was to find the remains of the fallen and missing. All this to be able to close the last chapters of their story and take them home, where an official burial with the participation of their family awaited them. However, this type of work is an extremely difficult art. One of the adversities is time – after all, we are talking about entire decades of soil processes or environmental degradation.
To effective search were possible at all, it turned out to be necessary to use the so-called wet screening. This involves passing the excavated material through water to separate and analyze the debris from dirt and sand. In this way, a lot of human remains as well as fragments of the plane wreck were found.
After separating the interesting materials, the team was left to “connect the dots”, but also to perform advanced genetic analysis. For this purpose, material of human origin was sent for analysis to the DPAA laboratory. This site is considered the largest collection of information necessary to identify skeletons in the world. The discovered remains eventually turned out to be Myers’.
Thus the story of the American pilot came to an end. He was buried on November 10, 2023 at the cemetery in St. Petersburg, Florida. Although his case came to an end, there are still many remains of other soldiers killed in the conflict in the land of Sicily (and beyond).
It is said that there were over 70,000 killed on the American side. While in many cases it is impossible to find the remains, there are chances of identification 39 thousand. These are rough estimates from researchers, who also warn against optimism. This type of search is an extremely difficult task.
However, Myers’ example shows that the limits of the impossible can be pushed. Even after 80 years, the fallen can return to their homeland and count on a decent burial.