Illinois soldier identified, decades after being killed in WWII


Photo: Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WTVO) — An Illinois soldier, killed during World War II, has been identified, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA).

U.S. Army Air Forces Sgt. Francis Wiermerslage, 20, of River Grove, was accounted for on August 24th, the agency announced Tuesday.

“In March 1945, Wiemerslage was assigned to the 549th Bombardment Squadron, 385th Bombardment Group, 8th Air Force, serving in Germany,” DPAA said. “He was the ball turret gunner on a B-17G Flying Fortress bomber during a bombing mission over Dresden, on March 2. Enemy fighters attacked the bomber between Berlin and Leipzig, and the plane was shot down. Two of the nine crew members survived the incident, while the rest, including Wiemerslage, were killed. Seven men were reportedly recovered from the wreckage and buried near Züllsdorf. After the war ended, there was no evidence of Wiemerslage being a prisoner of war or having survived, so a Finding of Death was issued a year after the crash.”

Wiemerslage’s wallet was found during an excavation of an area around Zullsdorf in the 1950’s, and some forensic material was collected and later identified by DNA analysis to be belonging to Sgt. Wiermerslage.

Wiemerslage’s name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Hombourg, Belgium, along with the others still missing from World War II. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

He will be buried in River Grove on October 23rd.

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