Amarillo WWII airman accounted for after remains found in China

Hometown Heroes

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Toney W. Gochnauer, 24, of Amarillo, Texas, killed during World War II, was accounted for on May 13, 2019.

On Jan. 25, 1944, Gochnauer was a member of 425th Bombardment Squadron, 308th Heavy Bombardment Group, 14th Air Force, as the co-pilot aboard a B-24J Liberator aircraft, departing Kunming, China on a supply mission to Chabua, India. Despite initially favorable weather, conditions deteriorated rapidly and the aircraft failed to arrive at its destination. Four other aircraft were also lost during their approach to Chabua. Due to inability to pinpoint a loss location, no search efforts were initiated, and none of the eight crewmembers or four passengers on board were recovered.

In June 2017, DPAA contractor Abor Country was tasked to perform a reconnaissance of a site near Kese Bagang Village, East Kameng District, State of Arunachal Pradesh, based on information provided by Mr. Clayton Kuhles. Abor Country reported they had located an aircraft crash site with a significant amount of debris, including wreckage that resembled an aircraft wing. The contractor turned possible human remains over to the U.S. Consulate in Kolkata.

In December 2017, during a Joint Field Activity, a DPAA investigation team visited the crash site and recovered human remains. The remains were consolidated into the laboratory for analysis.

To identify Gochnauer’s remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence. Additionally, the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), Y-chromosome DNA (Y-STR) and autosomal DNA (auSTR) analysis.

DPAA is grateful to government and people of India, Abor Country and Mr. Clayton Kuhles for their partnership in this recovery.

Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 72,704 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Gochnauer’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in Taguig City, Philippines, along with the others missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

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