Navy Aviation Ordnanceman First Class Di Petta accounted for from WWII

Navy Aviation Ordnanceman First Class Di Petta accounted for from WWII
U.S. Navy Aviation Ordnanceman First Class Anthony Di Petta Photo credit DPAA

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced recently that U.S. Navy Aviation Ordnanceman First Class Anthony Di Petta, 24, of Nutley, New Jersey, killed during World War II, was accounted for Jan. 3, 2023.

In the fall of 1944, Di Petta was the Aviation Ordnanceman assigned to the Navy Torpedo Squadron 20, USS Enterprise. On Sept. 10, Di Petta and two other crew members abroad the TBM-1C Avenger Bureau Number, 17018 took off from the USS Enterprise on a mission to conduct air strikes against enemy targets in Malakal Naval District, Palau Islands. Their aircraft was struck by enemy anti-aircraft fire and crashed into water near Malakal. Efforts to recover Di Petta’s remains were unsuccessful.

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 Palau, concluding their search in the summer of 1947. Investigators could not find any evidence of Di Petta or his aircraft. He was declared non-recoverable July 16, 1949.

From 2003 – 2018, the BentProp Project now known as Project Recover, and the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) conducted six investigations resulted in the location of a site associated with the incident.

In May 2019, Ships of Exploration and Discovery Research, a DPAA partner organization excavated the site and recovered remains and material evidence.

In Sept. 2021, a subsequent excavation was completed by Project Recover, a nonprofit organization that works to search and recover missing Americans, where additional remains and material evidence were recovered.

Remains and material evidence were sent to the DPAA laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, for analysis.

To identify Di Petta’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental analysis. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.

Di Petta’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, an American Battle Monuments Commission site 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.

Di Petta’s burial date and location is yet to be determined.

Featured Image Photo Credit: DPAA