The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Vincent J. Rogers, Jr., 21, of Snyder, New York, killed during World War II, was accounted for on March 21, 2019.
(This identification was initially announced on April 1, 2019.)
On Jan. 21, 1944, Rogers was an assistant radio operator for the 38th Bombardment Squadron, (Heavy), 30th Bombardment Group, stationed at Hawkins Field, Betio Island, Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands, when his B-24J bomber crashed in shallow water shortly after take-off.
The squadron’s physician witnessed the crash and immediately waded into the water. He was able to rescue three members of the 10-man crew. The other seven crew members perished in the crash. Their remains were subsequently recovered from the wreckage and buried on the island in a temporary cemetery.
Following the war, the U.S. Army’s 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company (AGRC) conducted remains recovery operations on Betio between 1946 and 1947. Those efforts led to the recovery and identification of three of the seven deceased crew members from the B-24J. The AGRC also consolidated all the remains from isolated burial sites into a single cemetery called Lone Palm Cemetery. The remains of the other four crewmembers from the B-24J bomber were believed to be among those moved, however Rogers’ remains were not identified and he was declared non-recoverable. Those Tarawa remains that could not be identified were interred in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu.
On April 3, 2017, DPAA disinterred Tarawa Unknown X-012 from the Punchbowl. Also in 2017, History Flight, Inc., through a partnership with DPAA uncovered a series of coffin burials in Cemetery #33. Based on scientific analysis, the X-012 remains were consolidated with remains recovered from Cemetery #33.
To identify Rogers’ remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis. Additionally, the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used Y-chromosome DNA (Y-STR) analysis.
DPAA is grateful to the Department of Veterans Affairs and History Flight, Inc. for their participation 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 72,729 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Rogers’ name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, in Honolulu, along with the others missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
Rogers will be buried in Riverside, California, at a date to still be determined.