WASHINGTON— U.S. Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Robert Parker of Lansing, Michigan was killed during World War II at the age of 23.
Finally, on March 9, 2021, he was accounted for, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today.
In November 1943, Parker was a pilot assigned to the 35th Fighter Squadron, 8th Fighter Group.
On Nov. 15, he was on a patrol mission with seven others over the Markham River Valley, New Guinea, when his formation encountered a swarm of enemy aircraft on the southern edge of the Finisterre Range.
After shooting down one enemy aircraft, Parker collided with another, the impact shearing a wing off of each. He crashed near Sagarak, and it was reported that he did not bail out. After an aerial search of the area found nothing, Parker was declared missing in action. In November 1944, the War Department issued a presumptive finding of death.
Following the war, the American Graves Registration Service, the organization that searched for and recovered fallen American personnel, conducted exhaustive searches of battle areas and crash sites in northeastern New Guinea, concluding their search in April 1948. Investigators could not find any evidence of Parker or his aircraft. He was declared non-recoverable Sept. 14, 1949.
In 2010, a team of third-party investigators visited an aircraft crash site in Morobe Province where they found a portion of a P-40N tail assembly and part of a possible tail number, both of which matched Parker’s aircraft.
In September 2018, DPAA investigators visited Warom village in the Markham district. Residents said the alleged aircraft wreckage was within half a day’s walk from the village. The team also observed several pieces of P-40 wreckage in the village. An attempt was made to reach the wreckage site, but inclement weather, hazardous terrain, and time constraints prevented the team from reaching the site.
They did, however, observe a propeller blade and landing strut located “downstream” from the reported site, and a local guide was able to get pictures of additional wreckage.
In May 2019, DPAA investigators returned to Warom after receiving information that residents had possible human remains reportedly recovered from the crash site. After extensive negotiations, local officials turned over the possible remains and a piece of the P-40 aircraft to the team, who then took them to DPAA’s laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, for analysis.
To identify Parker’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as material and circumstantial evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y chromosome DNA (Y-STR) analysis.
Parker’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines, along with others still missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
Parker’s funeral date and location has yet to be decided.
For family and funeral information, contact the Army Casualty Office at (800) 892-2490.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil, find us on social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa or https://www.linkedin.com/company/defense-pow-mia-accounting-agency.
Parker’s personnel profile can be viewed at the link below: