World War II Airman Finally Laid to Rest
**WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 27, 2023) **- The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) accounted for U.S. Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Ralph D. Kolb, 19, of McGehee, Arkansas, on Sept. 14, 2022. Kolb, who was killed during World War II in 1943, remained unknown for decades but will finally be laid to rest in McGehee, Arkansas, on June 14, 2023.
In the summer of 1943, Kolb was assigned to the 343rd Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 98th Bombardment Group (Heavy), 9th Air Force. On Aug. 1, 1943, the B-24 Liberator bomber on which Kolb was the assistant radio operator was hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire and crashed during Operation TIDAL WAVE, the largest bombing mission against the oil fields and refineries at Ploiesti, north of Bucharest, Romania. His remains were not identified following the War. The remains that could not be identified were buried as Unknowns in the Hero Section of the Civilian and Military Cemetery of Bolovan, Ploiesti, Prahova, Romania.
Following the War, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC), the organization that searched for and recovered fallen American personnel, disinterred all American remains from the Bolovan Cemetery for identification. The AGRC was unable to identify more than 80 unknowns from Bolovan Cemetery, and those remains were permanently interred at Ardennes American Cemetery and Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, both in Belgium.
In 2017, DPAA began exhuming unknowns believed to be associated with unaccounted-for airmen from Operation TIDAL WAVE losses. These remains were sent to the DPAA Laboratory for examination and identification.
To identify Kolb’s remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis as well as circumstantial evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome DNA analysis.
Kolb was a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross for his participation in the Ploesti Raid "Operation Tidal Wave," one of the most daring raids of World War II.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil. www.dpaa.mil
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