U.S. Army Air Force 2nd Lt. Martin Murray was piloting a B-24D Liberator plane that took off from an airfield on the island of New Guinea on Oct. 27, 1943, with 11 other crewmen aboard. He was flying a reconnaissance mission over shipping lanes in the Bismarck Sea, ahead of an attack on Japanese forces nearby. But the mission was scrapped midflight because of bad weather, and flight controllers instructed Murray to land the plane at a friendly airstrip on an island nearby.
The plane never landed, and the crew's fate -- until now -- was unknown.
But 60 years after Murray's ill-fated mission, the military got a tip about his whereabouts. A villager in Papua New Guinea, came upon what looked like a decades-old crash site and retrieved an ID card belonging to one of the crew members, the Pentagon announced Wednesday. A team from the military's joint POW/MIA Accounting Command went to investigate.
Murray, originally from Lowell, Mass., was 21 at the time of his death. He was survived by his parents and three sisters, all of whom have since died. But several of Murray's cousins are still living, and they plan to give him a proper burial in Marshfield, Mass., this Saturday, with full military honors -- nearly 68 years late.
Nearly 75,000 Americans still remain missing, unrecovered or unidentified from World War II, the Pentagon said.