Air Force identified its own

The remains of a B-17 Flying Fortress top turret gunner, shot down over Germany in World War II, have been recovered.

Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Willard R. Best, 24, of Staunton, Illinois, was accounted for Sept. 3, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced Oct. 24.

In August 1944, Best was a top turret gunner aboard a B-17G assigned to the 407th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 92nd Bombardment Group (Heavy), 40th Combat Bombardment Wing, 1st Air Division, 8th Air Force. On Aug. 24, the nine-man crew of the Flying Fortress was conducting a bombing raid over Merseburg, Germany, when it was struck by anti-aircraft fire and crashed, according to the DPAA… Four crewmembers survived and were captured by German forces. The other five, including Best, were killed.

Best’s remains were reported to have been buried in the Leipzig-Lindenthal Cemetery. After the war, the American Graves Registration Command recovered three sets of remains from the Lindenthal Cemetery. One set was identified, but the other two could not be. The remains of the three service members were declared unidentifiable and buried as unknown American service members in American Battle Monuments Commission cemeteries in Europe in 2017.

After volunteers notified DPAA of the unknown burials associated with the B-17 crash, a DPAA historian determined that three sets of remains could likely be associated with crewmembers from Best’s Flying Fortress.

April 2019, the Department of Defense and ABMC disinterred three sets of remains and sent them to the DPAA laboratory for identification. Scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used anthropological analysis mitochondrial DNA analysis to identify Best.

Best’s name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Belgium, along with the others missing from WWII. Although interred as an unknown, Best’s grave was meticulously cared for by ABMC for 70 years. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been identified.

Best was the son of Otto and Lena Best of Staunton and the brother of Leland Elmer Best, Joyce Best and Harold C. Best, according to contributors to He was married to Alma L. Best of Decatur, Ill., at the time of his death. He will be buried in his hometown in the spring of 2020.

Original Story

Hey there!

Little tip: try not to just copy and paste a news story into a new topic, it’s a bit boring! Try to summarise it (by all means quote some of it), because it’ll be easier for people to read - some bullet points are easier to read than a page of text! Also always remember to include your source so that you don’t run into any copyright issues etc…

My inbox is always open for questions!


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Thanks for your tips, I’ll carry on with everything I do. All my stories have original sources which you can see on the post. Thanks.


Ah yes I do apologise for not seeing the source! I must admit it was quite interesting having read it!

All good’ every story I post I share sources with the “Original Story” if there’s an article involved


Nice story indeed.
I do subscribe to @rebal15’s point though; as you have the sources there for the full story, why not summarise your own story on this forum. Use your own words as much as you can. I think it would make the posts even better than they are now.

For the rest, keep them coming 😊

It’s easier copy and paste vs typing on a phone, typically these stories come and I’m busy through out the day. Now there’s some that I do add on

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