The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Walter B. Stone, 24, of Andalusia, Alabama, killed during World War II, was accounted for on Feb. 20, 2019.
(This identification was initially announced on Feb. 25, 2019.)
In October 1943, Stone served as a pilot in the 350th Fighter Squadron, 353rd Fighter Group, VIII U.S. Fighter Command. On Oct. 22, 1943, Stone was killed when his P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft crashed in northern France during a bomber escort mission. Because France was enemy-occupied territory at the time of the crash, search and recovery operations were not possible.
In 1990, a French excavation group, called Association Maurice Choron (AMC,) carried out a limited excavation of the site in the forest near La Wattine, France, where Stone was believed to have crashed. Aircraft wreckage that matched Stone’s aircraft was located and a field investigation was recommended.
In April and May 2017, a DPAA Recovery Team excavated a site based on information from a local resident. During the excavation, an identification tag for Stone was located, as well as remains. The remains were sent to the laboratory for identification.
In 2018, in a contract with the University of Wisconsin, the site excavation was completed, with additional remains consolidated with the previously located remains.
To identify Stone’s remains, scientists from DPAA used circumstantial and material evidence.
DPAA is grateful to the University of Wisconsin, Mayor Jean-Pierre Leclerq, Mayor Jean-Claude Hiraut, Mr. Marceau Goblet, Mr. Jocelyn Leclercq and the Association Maurice Choron (now disbanded,) including Mr. Jean-Pierre Duriez, and the government of France, including the Direction Régionale des Affaires Culturelles, the Office National des Forets, the Gendarmerie Nationale, and the townships of Mentque-Nortbécourt and Tournehem-sur-la-Hem for their partnership in this mission.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 72,731 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Stone’s name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Ardennes American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Neupré, Belgium, along with the others missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
Stone will be buried May 11, 2019, in his hometown.