Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Byron H. Nelson, Missing from World War II, has now been accounted for. On April 25, 1944, Nelson was a member of the 721st Bomb Squadron, 450th Bomb Group, 15th Air Force, and was the nose gunner aboard an American B-24G Liberator bomber. While flying from Manduria, Italy, three aircraft became separated from the formation due to dense clouds. Nelson’s aircraft was one that disappeared. It was later learned that eight of the 10 people in his aircraft parachuted from the bomber after being attacked by German fighters. Six crewmen were able to successfully escape and two were captured. A captured crewman was told that two perished in the crash, one being Nelson.
On September 9, 1947, the American Graves Registration Service disinterred remains from a cemetery near Fognano, Italy, where they were reportedly buried by local residents following the crash. The remains were unable to be identified and were re-interred as “Unknown X-190” in the Florence American Cemetery on May 26, 1949.
Due to new historical investigations and new technology that could link an identification to Unknown X-190, the remains were disinterred in August 2015.
DNA analysis and circumstantial evidence were used in the identification of his remains. (information retrieved from www.findagrave.com)
SSgt. Nelson was escorted to Primghar by the Freedom Riders, Iowa State Patrol, and O’Brien County Sheriff’s Office. The procession was met by the Iowa National Guard Military Honor Guard.
A memorial service will be held at the Pleasant Hill Cemetery, 5831 380th Street, Primghar on Saturday, July 1 at 1:30 p.m. with full military honors. The family of SSgt. Byron H. Nelson will be at the Primghar Community Building, 215 1st Street. SE, following the service.