The US Army has launched an operation on German soil to search for the remains of a soldier thought to have perished in a B-24 bomber at the end of World War II.
On orders of the Pentagon, servicemen and women from the US Army, Air Force and Navy have occupied a field outside the city of Muenster in the north-western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
They are look for the remains of a comrade who was never found when B-24 bomber crashed on the same field in 1945.
On orders of the Pentagon they are looking for a missing comrade who was never found when B-24 bomber crashed on the field in 1945.
Five of the nine airmen in the plane died and three ended up as POWs, however the fate of the ninth airman is still unknown.
Theresa Blackmon, an American soldier who grew up in the German city of Heidelberg and speaks fluent German, has accompanied the search team.
Blackmon said: “We are a group of 24 soldiers from all fields of the military and we will work here for four weeks.
“Two years ago, a historical team managed to establish that the aircraft crashed on this exact spot. We are now responsible for finding the remains of our comrade.”
The name of the missing co-pilot has not been revealed by the US Army as they do not want to give relatives any false hope in case their search fails to bring any results.
Blackmon and her team have excavated 20 centimetres of soil from several four-metre-square plots which they are currently sieving through.
The soldiers will dig deeper if they find a plot with bone fragments or equipment materials that are close together instead of scattered over larger area.
If they discover such evidence, operation leader Captain Orlando Pena said: “We will have the potential bone remnants examined in a laboratory in Hawaii. If there is a hit, we can give the relatives certainty. Then there will finally be a dignified burial.
“Our organisation has promised the families and the American nation that we will not leave any comrades behind.”
The B-24 heavy bomber which crashed near Muenster took part in Operation Plunder at the end of WW II.
Several bombing raids were carried out on German cities and other targets to allow forces led by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery to cross the lower parts of the River Rhine.