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Remains identified as Brookline pilot killed in WWII

Army Air Forces First Lieutenant Allen R. Turner.
Army Air Forces First Lieutenant Allen R. Turner. (Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency)

Officials have identified the remains of an Army Air Forces pilot from Brookline who was killed during World War II when his plane crashed in Asia, the Defense Department said Tuesday.

In a statement, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency confirmed the remains of Army Air Forces First Lieutenant Allen R. Turner had finally been accounted for.

Turner was 25 when the C-109 aircraft he was piloting from Jorhat, India, to Hsinching, China, crashed in a remote area on July 17, 1945, the release said.

The whereabouts of Turner and his comrades remained a mystery until 2007, when independent investigator Clayton Kuhles spotted aircraft wreckage in a deep ravine that correlated with Turner’s plane, officials said.

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Possible remains were turned over to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, and two years later, a contracted group “confirmed the location of the aircraft wreckage,” the statement said. In addition, a local resident in India turned over bone fragments he had taken from the crash site, according to the release.

Investigators identified one set of remains on Feb. 9, 2016, as Turner’s copilot, First Lieutenant Frederick W. Langhorst, 24, of Yonkers, N.Y., the release said. Langhorst was buried in Michigan in November of that year.

A second set of remains was confirmed in September to belong to Army Air Forces Private First Class Joseph I. Natvik, 21, of Madison, Wis. He was buried last month in Columbus, Wis., the military said.

“To identify Turner’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence,” the statement said. “DPAA is grateful to the government of India and Clayton Kuhles for their partnership in this mission.”

More than 72,771 US service members killed during World War II remain unaccounted for, according to the release.

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The military said Turner’s plane crashed while traveling over an area known as “The Hump.”

That busy supply route was dangerous for pilots, according to the Lyon Air Museum in Santa Ana, Calif.

“During its time, Hump Operations carried more tons of cargo over a given route than any other aviation operation since the Wright brothers’ flight at Kitty Hawk,” the museum says on its website. “More planes and more cargo were flown in Hump Operations than any civilian airline in the world at that time, and it flew them over the most rugged mountain terrain in the world. It did so with a fraction of any near rival’s service and maintenance facilities. Its operational losses, which were higher than those of any other noncombatant aviation unit in World War II, exceeded those of many combat units.”

The military said Turner’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site located in Taguig City, Philippines. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he’s been accounted for, the statement said.

The cemetery contains “the largest number of graves of our military dead of World War II, a total of 17,058,” its website says.


Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.