P-39 Airacobra pilot accounted for from World War II

P-39 Airacobra pilot accounted for from World War II
U.S. Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Gabriel J. Eggud Photo credit DPAA

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that U.S. Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Gabriel J. Eggud, 25, of New York, killed during World War II, was accounted for Sept. 17, 2020.

In the summer of 1944, Eggud was a pilot assigned to the 110th Reconnaissance Squadron (Fighter), 71st Reconnaissance Group. On July 6, he was piloting a P-39 Airacobra fighter on a combat mission over Wewak, New Guinea, when a released bomb exploded and destroyed his aircraft. Efforts to recover Eggud’s remains were unsuccessful.

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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 New Guinea, concluding their search in late 1948. Investigators could not find any evidence of Eggud or his aircraft. He was declared non-recoverable Sept. 20, 1949.

Between 2001 and 2019, DPAA and its predecessor organizations conducted several investigation and recovery missions in near Wewak, Papua New Guinea. A recovery team in 2019 found possible human remains, possible material evidence, possible life-support equipment, and diagnostic and non-diagnostic aircraft wreckage including cockpit plexiglass, a rudder pedal, a cockpit door handle, a brake control unit, and instrument panel components.

At the end of Sept. 2019, all evidence was sent to the DPAA Laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, for identification.

To identify Eggud’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) analysis.

Eggud’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.

Eggud will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. The date has yet to be decided.