SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — On behalf of all Californians, Governor Brown and First Lady Anne Gust Brown honor U.S. Army Air Forces Pfc. Mervyn E. Sims, 23, a WWII airman missing since 1943.
On April 22, 2011 the Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced that Sims’ remains have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Pfc. Sims bravely gave his life in service to our state and nation, and the Governor and First Lady extend their deepest condolences to his family at this difficult time. In memorial, Governor Brown ordered that flags be flown at half-staff over the State Capitol today. Pfc. Sims’ family will receive a letter of condolence from the Governor.
The following information was provided by DPMO:
On April 24, 1943, Sims and four crew members aboard a C-87 Liberator Express departed from Yangkai, China, in support of “the Hump,” a dangerous mission to resupply Chinese nationalist forces and their U.S. air support after the Japanese invasion of Burma cut off the only land route. Prior to takeoff, a ground crew determined the aircraft had sufficient fuel for the six-hour flight to the air base on the other side of the Himalayas in Chabua, India. Once cleared for takeoff, there was no further communication between the aircrew and airfield operators. Army officials launched a search effort when the plane did not arrive at the destination. No evidence of the aircraft was found and the five men were presumed killed in action.
In 2003, an American citizen in Burma reported to U.S. officials at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) that he had found aircraft wreckage he believed to be an American C-87 in the mountains 112 miles east of Chabua. He was detained by Burmese officials when he attempted to leave the country with human remains and artifacts from the site. The remains and materials were handed over to officials at the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon. Attempts to excavate the site are being negotiated with the Indian government.
Meanwhile, JPAC scientists continued the forensic process, analyzing the remains and physical evidence already in hand.
Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA, which matched that of Sims’ sister, in the identification of his remains.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died. At the end of the war, the U.S. government was unable to recover and identify approximately 79,000 Americans. Today, more than 72,000 are unaccounted for from the conflict.