WWII soldier is identified 80 years after he was killed in action in eastern Europe as US Army Air Forces Tech sgt. Frank C Ferrel from Texas
- US Army Forces Tech Sergeant Frank C. Ferrell died aged 31 in Romania
- Do you know any of Tech sgt. Frank Ferrel’s relatives? Email [email protected]
An American soldier who fought in the Second World War has finally been identified 80 years after he was killed in action in eastern Europe.
The previously unidentified soldier has now been named as US Army Forces Tech Sergeant Frank C. Ferrel, from Roby, Texas, who died when he was 31 years old.
The Defense POW/MIA Account Agency announced that his remains were ‘accounted for’ on January 10, 2023, after he was buried in an unmarked grave in Romania. Scientists were able to identify his remains using specialised DNA analysis.
Ferrel, worked as a football coach and teacher before the war, had been assigned to the 328th Bombardment Squadron in the summer of 1943 and he worked as an engineer on the B-24 Liberator bomber during Operation TIDAL WAVE. The Operation was the ‘largest bombing mission against the oil fields and refineries at Ploiesti, north of Bucharest, Romania, the DPAA said.
But on August 1, 1943, Ferrel’s bomber was hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire and it crashed, killing the sergeant.
The previously unidentified soldier has now been named as US Army Forces Tech Sergeant Frank C. Ferrel (pictured), from Roby, Texas, who died when he was 31 years old
Ferrel had been assigned to the 328th Bombardment Squadron in the summer of 1943 and he worked as an engineer on the B-24 Liberator bomber during Operation TIDAL WAVE
Ferrel’s remains were not identified following the Second World War and he was buried as ‘Unknowns’ in the Hero section of the ‘Civilian and Military Cemetery of Bolovani’ in Ploiesti.
Following the war, the remains of all American soldiers buried in the cemetery were disinterred by the American Graves Registration Command, the DPAA said. But more than 80 bodies were not identified.
Those unidentified remains were permanently interred at Ardennes American Cemetery and Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, both of which are in Belgium. But in 2017, the DPPA began exhuming unknown remains believed to be associated with unaccounted-for airmen from Operation TIDAL WAVE losses, the agency said.
Once exhumed, the remains were dent to the agency’s lab at the Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, where they were examined and identified using anthropological analysis and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis. It was through these techniques that they managed to identify Ferrel.
Now that Ferrel has been identified, he will be buried in Slyvester, Texas. It is not yet known when the funeral will be held or if any of his relatives are alive.
Ferrel’s remains were not identified following the Second World War and he was buried as ‘Unknowns’ in the Hero section of the ‘Civilian and Military Cemetery of Bolovani’ in Ploiesti
A press cutting from November 6, 1943, said that Ferrel was survived by his wife, mother – G. W. Ferrell -, and two sisters – Georgia and Claudine Ferrel.
Ferrel, a graduate of McMurry College in Abilene, Texas, taught children at the Lueders school for two years and was also a football coach. He later volunteered for service in the Air Force in 1942.
The airman’s name was recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Florence American Cemetary in Impruneta, Italy, along with those still missing from the Second World.
The agency will now place a rosette next to his name to show that he has now been identified.
WHAT IS MITOCHONDRIAL DNA?
Mitochondrial DNA (mDNA) is exclusively inherited from the mother, not both parents as is the case with nuclear DNA.
It is located in the mitochondria, the part of the cell that converts chemical energy from food into fuel for the cell called ATP.
It is a tiny portion of the overall DNA in the human body, with nuclear DNA making up the bulk.
It was the first part of the human genome to be sequenced by scientists, accounting for 16,569 base pairs and 13 proteins.
It has a separate evolutionary origin to nuclear DNA, coming from the circular genomes of bacteria.
There is usually no change in the mitochondrial DNA as it is passed from mother to child.
This can make it a powerful tool for tracking ancestry through the female line.
In animals scientists have used it to trace the family line of species back multiple generations through the mother.