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Remains of Pittsburgh airman killed in WWII identified

By Madeline Bartos

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    PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — An airman from Pittsburgh who was 21 years old when he was killed in World War II has been accounted for.

The remains of U.S. Army Air Forces Tech. Sgt. Paul F. Eshelman Jr. have been identified, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced in a news release on Tuesday.

On Aug. 1, 1943, Eshelman was the radio operator on the B-24 Liberator bomber “Tagalong” when it was hit by enemy fire. The plane crashed during Operation TIDAL WAVE, which the DPAA said was the largest bombing mission against the oil fields and refineries at Ploiești, Romania.

Eshelman’s remains were not identified, and he was buried in a cemetery in Romania.

After the war, the American Graves Registration Command, which searched for and recovered fallen Americans, took remains from the cemetery for identification. There were about 80 people the organization couldn’t identify, and they were buried at cemeteries in Belgium.

In 2017, the DPAA said it began exhuming personnel they believed to be associated with unaccounted-for airmen from Operation TIDAL WAVE. Eshelman’s remains were identified through dental, anthropological and mtDNA analysis. He was identified in September, but his family just recently received their full briefing on his identification.

Eshelman’s name is written on the Tablets of the Missing at the Florence American Cemetery in Italy along with others who are still missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to show he’s been accounted for, the DPAA said.

He’ll be buried in Allison Park, Pennsylvania. A date hasn’t been set.

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