LANSING, Mich. — U.S. Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Robert Parker of Lansing, Michigan was declared missing during World War II at the age of 23.
In November of 1943, Parker was on a patrol mission in Papua New Guinea, when he encountered an enemy aircraft on the southern edge of Finisterre Range.
He shot down one plane, but collided with another and the impact tore off his plane's wing. He crashed down near Saagarak.
Sergeant 1st Class, Sean Everette, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency public affairs spokesman, said, “based on reporting from other pilots that were part of that same patrol, he did not bail out.”
Parker was declared missing in action after an unsuccessful area search but the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency never stopped searching for him.
“Yes, it took a long time, because it took a long time to get the right clues and find the right locations, and things like that. But it is our solemn duty to never leave a fallen comrade and, and we take that very seriously,” Everette said.
Everette said, in 2008, they sent an investigation team out to a village that was near where the crash was suspected to have happened.
In 2010, a team of third-party investigators visited an aircraft crash site in Morobe Province where they found a portion of a P-40N tail assembly and part of a possible tail number, both of which matched Parker’s aircraft.
The agency returned in 2019 and was able to negotiate with the village to take Parker's remains to the U.S. to run tests. They matched his DNA to family members using a DNA references system.
On March 9, Armed Medical Forces identified Parker as accounted for.
Parker’s name is on the Walls of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines, along with others still missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to show he has been accounted for.
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