Myanmar Repatriates Suspected Remains of US WWII Servicemen

coffin covered with U.S. national flag during a repatriation ceremony at Mandalay International Airport
U.S. military guard of honor carry a coffin covered with U.S. national flag during a repatriation ceremony at Mandalay International Airport Thursday, March 12, 2020, in Mandalay, central Myanmar. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

MANDALAY, Myanmar — The U.S. military on Thursday repatriated what may be the remains of service personnel who were lost in action in Myanmar during World War II.

The remains from Myanmar's central Sagaing region were repatriated at a ceremony at Mandalay International Airport after being recovered in a mission carried out by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency of the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Embassy said.

"Over 75 years ago, brave Americans gave their lives on a river bank in Sagaing, fighting for peace, justice and freedom far from home," the U.S. Embassy's Deputy Chief of Mission George Sibley said at the ceremony. “Today we recommit to those noble values as we repatriate the possible remains of those U.S. citizens and honor their service and their sacrifices.”

The remains will be flown to the agency's laboratory in Hawaii for analysis and potential identification.

There are 505 U.S. service members still unaccounted in Myanmar, which was known as Burma during World War II. The remains of 23 have been identified after three recovery missions carried out in 2003 and 2004 and nine since 2013.

The remains repatriated Thursday are thought to be related to a B-25G bomber with a crew of seven that was lost in February 1944. Myanmar was then a British colony occupied by Japan's armed forces.

The plane's wreckage was located in 1946 and some possible remains were recovered last year in the same region, but have not yet resulted in an identification.

According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, more than 72,000 Americans in all remain unaccounted for from World War II, more than 7,800 from the Korean War, and 1,585 from the conflict in Vietnam.

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