The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, recently accounted-for from World War II, are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Air Forces Tech. Sgt. Earl P. Gorman, 23, of Lynn, Massachusetts, will be buried October 13 in Valatie, New York. On April 23, 1944, Gorman was a member of the 718th Bombardment Squadron, 449th Bombardment Group, as the radio operator for a B-24 aircraft, on a bombing mission against targets near Schwechat, Austria. The formation left Grottaglie, Italy, and flew over Yugoslavia to reach the target, when they were attacked by German planes. During the attack, Gorman was struck and critically wounded. His crewmates put a parachute on him and bailed him out of the plane in an area they believed to be northeast of Zagreb, before bailing themselves. All of the crewmembers except Gorman survived.
On July 4, 1947, investigators from the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) exhumed remains believed to be those of an American from the Yugoslavian (now Croatian) village of Sveti Ivan Zelina. Several villagers reported they had witnessed a squadron of American airplanes engaged with German aircraft above their village in April or May of 1944. They reported one man parachuted out of an airplane, and that he died shortly after he reached the ground. He was buried in an unmarked grave. The AGRS disinterred the remains, designated them as Unknown X-51, and transferred them to the United States Military Cemetery (USMC) Belgrade.
The remains were disinterred in January 1948, and were reinterred at the USMC Anzio (now the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery), in Nettuno, Italy on April 12, 1949, when identification efforts were unsuccessful.
After a thorough historical and scientific analysis, it was determined that X-51 could likely be identified. After receiving approval, on March 15, 2017, Unknown X-51 was disinterred from the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and sent to the DPAA laboratory for analysis.
To identify Gorman’s remains, scientists from DPAA used laboratory analysis, including dental, anthropological and chest radiograph comparison analysis, which matched his records, and circumstantial evidence.
DPAA is grateful to the American Battle Monuments Commission for their partnership in this recovery mission.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 72,993 service members (approximately 26,000 assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Gorman’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at an American Battle Monuments Commission site along with the other MIAs from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.