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After 78 Years, Remains Of Minnesota Airman Killed In WWII Identified

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- After nearly 80 years, the remains of a 23-year-old southern Minnesota airman killed during WWII have been accounted for.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced Tuesday that the remains of U.S. Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Alan E. Petersen were identified over the summer. Peterson, of Brownton, is scheduled to be buried in Glencoe later this month.

According to a statement, Petersen was serving with the 345th Bombardment Squadron when he was killed on Aug. 1, 1943, during Operation Tidal Wave, the largest bombing mission against the oil fields and refineries north of Bucharest, Romania.

peterson killed in action
(credit: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency)

Peterson was in a B-24 Liberator aircraft that crashed after taking anti-aircraft fire. His remains, which were unidentifiable at the time, were buried as unknowns in the Hero Section of the Civilian and Military Cemetery of Bolovan Ploiesti, Prahova, Romania.

After the war, the American Graves Registration Command disinterred all the American remains from the Romanian cemetery, but Peterson was among 80 soldiers who remained unknown and interred in an American cemetery in Belgium.

In 2017, the DPAA exhumed remains of airmen killed in Operation Tidal Wave. They were sent to the Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska for DNA analysis. Scientists were able to identify Peterson from dental and anthropological clues.

While Peterson's name is recorded in the Tablets of the Missing at the Florence American Cemetery in Italy, his name will so be marked with a rosette to signify that he's been found.

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