445th Bomb Group WW II sergeant accounted for

  • Published
  • 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced July 18th that Army Air Forces Tech. Sgt. James M. Triplett, 36, of Spokane, Washington, killed during World War II, was accounted for Oct. 25, 2022.Triplett served in the 700th Bombardment Squadron, 445th Bombardment Group, 2d Air Division, 8th Air Force.

The 445th Operations Group as well as the 445th Airlift Wing retains the lineage and honors from the 445th Bombardment Group. 

In September 1944, Triplett was assigned to 700th Bombardment Squadron, 445th Bombardment Group, 2d Air Division, 8th Air Force. On Sept. 27, the B-24H Liberator bomber on which he was serving as a radio operator was part of a large mission to bomb the industrial city Kassel in northern Hesse, Germany. During the mission the formation of aircraft encountered heavy resistance from enemy ground and air forces, which resulted in the rapid loss of 25 Liberators. Several of the crew aboard Triplett’s aircraft were able to bail out, and witnesses who survived did not report seeing him escape the aircraft. Six of the nine crew members were killed. His body was not recovered and the Germans never reported him as a prisoner of war. The War Department issued a finding of death on Sept. 28, 1945.

Following the end of the war, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC) was tasked with investigating and recovering missing American personnel in Europe. They discovered the Liberator crash site outside of Richelsdorf, Germany. An identification tag for one of the missing crew members was discovered at this site. Two sets of human remains recovered in October 1951 from this excavation were not able to be identified, were designated as X-9070 Liege and X-9071 Liege, and subsequently interred. X-9070 was buried at Luxembourg American Cemetery in Belgium, while X-9071 had been buried in what is now North Africa American Cemetery in Tunis, Tunisia, in the 1950’s. Both cemeteries are registered as American Battle Monuments Commission cemeteries.

DPAA historians are conducting ongoing, comprehensive research focused on air losses over Germany. As a result, they determined X-9070 and X-9071 to be a strong candidate for association with Triplett. X-9070 was disinterred in April 2018 and X-9071 was disinterred in September 2022 and sent to the DPAA laboratory, for examination and identification.

To identify Triplett’s remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y chromosome DNA (Y-STR) analysis.

Triplett’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at Luxembourg American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Luxembourg, along with the others still missing from World War II. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Triplett will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, on Oct. 31, 2023.