445th Airman Accounted for from WWII (Porter, R.)

  • Published
  • Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced March 14 that U.S. Army Air Force 2nd Lt. Robert L. E. Porter, 23, of Chicago, Illinois, killed during World War II, was accounted for Dec. 20, 2023.

In early 1944, Porter was assigned to the 703rd Bombardment Squadron, 445th Bombardment Group, 8th Air Force in the European Theater. The origins of the 445th Airlift Wing date back to World War II through the 445th BG, which was the predecessor to the 445th Operations Group. 

On Feb 24, 2nd Lt. Porter, the navigator onboard a B-24J “Liberator”, was killed in action when his plane was hit by heavy anti-aircraft fire over Gotha, Germany. One of the surviving crewmembers reported seeing the plane on fire and in a steep dive, before eventually exploding on the ground.

While two crewmembers survived, the others, including Porter, were killed in the incident. German forces garrisoned in the area documented the crash site north of Leimbach Bahnhof, near Bad Salzungen, Germany. After the crash, German troops recovered the remains of the ball turret gunner and buried them in a local cemetery. The other six crewmembers, including 2nd Lt. Porter, were unaccounted for following the war.

In March 1952, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC), the organization that searched for and recovered fallen American personnel in the European Theater, took custody of comingled unidentified remains recovered from Bad Salzungen Cemetery.

These remains, X-9093 Griesheim Mausoleum (X-9093), X-9094 Griesheim Mausoleum (X-9094), and X-9095 Griesheim Mausoleum (X-9095), were believed to be those belonging to 2nd Lt. Porter’s downed aircraft. At the time, identification of these remains was not possible, and they were interred in the Ardennes America Cemetery, Belgium.

In June 2021, DPAA historians and American Battle Monuments Commission personnel, exhumed X-9093, X-9094, and X-9095 from Ardennes American Cemetery and transferred them to the DPAA Laboratory for analysis and identification.

To identify Porter’s remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.

Porter’s name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, Hombourg, Belgium, along with others still missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Second Lt. Porter will be buried in Elmwood, Illinois, on a date to be determined.

For family and funeral information, contact the Army Casualty Office at (800) 892-2490.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil or find them on social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa or https://www.linkedin.com/company/defense-pow-mia-accounting-agency.

Porter’s personnel profile can be viewed at https://dpaa-mil.sites.crmforce.mil/dpaaProfile?id=a0Jt0000000BTA7EAO.