SAN DIEGO — A U.S. Army Air Forces Sergeant from Southern California who went missing in action during World War II was recently accounted for, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced in a release on Thursday.
Sgt. Irving R. Newman, a 22-year-old from Los Angeles, was declared missing in action on May 6, 1943. He had been assigned to the European Theater with the 343rd Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 98th Bombardment Group (Heavy) and 9th Air Force when he disappeared, the DPAA said.
Newman, along with nine crewmembers of a B-24D Liberator, was participating in a bombing mission of Reggio di Calabria harbor in Sicily. While heading to their target, their plane began experiencing engine trouble that forced the pilots to make a course correction away from the main bomber group.
In changing direction, the aircraft when directly into enemy fire, the DPAA said. The pilots attempted to make an emergency landing, but later caught fire and crashed into the water near Benghajsa Point in Malta.
According to DPAA, at least five crewmembers were injured. Nine airmen survived the incident, leaving Newman unaccounted for. His remains were not recovered following the war.
Following the end of WWII, the American Graves Registration Command, Army Quartermaster Corps, was the organization tasked with recovering missing American military personnel in the European Theater.
In 1949, a board of officers reviewed the field investigations for 82 missing personnel who disappeared in the Mediterranean area, including Newman. According to DPAA, the board then recommended the individuals be designated “non-recoverable.” The recommendation was approved on Sept. 6 of that year.
Recently, however, the University of Malta and a private company located the wreckage of a B-24D near Beghajsa Point at a depth of about 180 feet. In 2018, a partner organization supported by DPAA archaeology recovered material evidence, life support equipment and suspected human remains from the crash site, the military organization said.
To identify Newman’s remains, scientists from the DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used anthropological analysis, including mitochondrial DNA and dental analysis. They were able to positively identify the remains as Newman on June 20, 2023.
The DPAA said Newman’s name was recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at Sicily-Rome American Cemetery — an American Battle Monuments Site in Impruneta, Italy. Now that he has been accounted for, the organization said a rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate that he has been found.
Newman will be buried at a place and time to be determined later, according to the DPAA.