PROVIDENCE (AP) — The Defense Department says the remains of a U.S. serviceman killed in World War II have been identified as an Rhode Island man. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced Wednesday that Army Air Forces 1st Lt. John D. Crouchley Jr. from Providence was identified through DNA and other evidence.
Crouchley was 26 when his plane was shot down and crashed during a combat mission over Romania. Nine crewmembers parachuted safely and were captured as prisoners of war in Belgium. They subsequently returned to duty while only Crouchley remained unaccounted for.
Because the crash occurred in enemy territory, American personnel couldn’t conduct an immediate search. Defense analysts surveyed the crash site in Bulgaria in 2010. It was excavated last year. Officials estimate that nearly 73,000 U.S. service members who fought during WWII are unaccounted for.