Remains of WWII airman from Jamaica Plain will return to Boston

US Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Joseph E. Finneran.
US Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Joseph E. Finneran.US Department of Defense

A US Army airman from Jamaica Plain who was shot down during a World War II bombing mission over Romania will be returned to Boston next month after his remains were identified by the Pentagon.

Joseph E. Finneran’s remains were identified by scientists from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency this summer — 76 years after his death in Ploesti, Romania, according to a statement from the Pentagon.

He was 22 when his B-24D aircraft was shot down in August 1943, the statement said.

Finneran was a 1st Lieutenant bombardier, assigned to the 345th Bombardment Squadron, 98th Bombardment Group and had been involved in Operation Tidal Wave — the largest bombing mission against the oil fields and refineries in Romania during the war, the statement said.


Finneran’s status was changed to “accounted for” on Aug. 9, and his family was notified.

His nephew, Robert Finneran, of Walpole said in a phone interview Sunday that “there’s a whole bunch of different feelings” around the return of an uncle he never knew.

“I would have liked to have had the opportunity to grow up with another uncle,” he said.

Robert Finneran, also a military veteran, recalled childhood trips to Washington, D.C., where he imagined that his uncle was among the unknown soldiers buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

He provided his DNA when scientists were trying to find a match.

“What happened to him has been one of those unknowns my whole life,” Robert Finneran said. “It’s an emotional thing, but it’s a good thing too — it’s good closure for him.”

Robert Finneran, his brother, and four surviving sisters will attend their uncle’s burial at Mount Benedict Cemetery in West Roxbury on Nov. 9 when he is laid to rest.

Jordan Frias can be reached at jordan.frias@globe.com.