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Dec-19-2008 11:28printcomments

Government Recovers Marine Pilot Missing In Action From WWII

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC used dental comparisons in the identification of McCown's remains.

Marine F-4U Corsair
Maj. Marion R. McCown Jr. flew the Marine F-4U Corsair
Courtesy: fantasticflyers.com

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors. He is Major Marion R. McCown Jr., U.S. Marine Corps, of Charleston, S.C. He will be buried on January 18th in Charleston. Representatives from the Marine Corps Mortuary Office met with McCown's next-of-kin to explain the recovery and identification process and to coordinate interment with military honors on behalf of the secretary of the Navy. On Jan. 20, 1944 McCown was the pilot of an F-4U Corsair aircraft that failed to return from a combat mission over Rabaul, New Britain, Papua New Guinea. In 1991, a Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) team excavated an F-4U crash site in Rabaul and recovered human remains and McCown's identification tag. However, forensic science at that time precluded an identification. In 2006, a JPAC team surveyed the crash site in preparation for a recovery. While at the site, a villager living in the area turned over to the team human remains that he claimed to have recovered from the site. In 2008, another JPAC team excavated the site and recovered additional human remains. Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC used dental comparisons in the identification of Major McCown's remains.

According to the Website PacificWrecks.com, the pilot of this aircraft was Captain Marion R. McCown, Jr., O-009610 of South Dakota.

Marion McCown earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart. The site reports that Marion McCowan took off from Torokina Airfield as part of a F4U escort for B-25s attacking Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul.

Japanese aircraft reportedly intercepted the aircraft, and Major McCown is said to have engaged a Zero at 4,000 feet while another moved to attack him. Another F4U cleared his tail, claiming the attacking Zero as shot down, but Major McCown was never seen again. A total of three F4Us were lost: this aircraft also F4U 17914 and F4U 55835.

The plane crashed near Mount Varzin, south of Rabaul on a stream bank near Viveren Village. The engine, tail cone and pieces of the wing remain. A portion of the wreckage with the Bureau Number was recovered by Brian Bennett during the 1980s and is displayed at the Kokopo Museum. The remains of the pilot were present at the wreck.

Brian Bennett from PacificWrecks.com adds: "This crash site was, to my knowledge first identified by a Terry McMahon who was at that time a plumbing trades teacher at the Rabaul Malaguna Vocational Centre. Terry had found the site and also a Identification disc [dogtag] of Captain M. C. McCown. I remember that he showed me the dogtag but would not hand it over so that i could forward it to US Army CILHI."

Bennett continued, "In 1984, I visited the site and managed to locate nearly on the surface some cranium fragments which I retrieved and also reported this to CILHI. The number 02402 was the Navy Bu No and was on the vertical stabilizer in small letters maybe 1.5" high. I donated this piece to the Kokopo Museum with rest of my collection in late 1989."

On May 14th, the suspected remains of Lt Allan S. Harrison III and Captain Marion R. McCown, were recovered, flown to Port Moresby PNGDF HQ, then flown to Hawaii for further identification.

Major Marion McCown was declared dead on January 16, 1946. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.




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