More than 73 years after being shot down on a World War Two bombing mission over Italy, Staff Sgt. Byron H. Nelson is returning home to Iowa.
Nelson was a 28-year old Primghar, Iowa nose gunner serving with the 450th Air Force Bomber Group in 1944.
His B-24G “Liberator” was shot down on a bombing mission over Varese, Italy.
Eight of the ten crew members were able to parachute from the aircraft, but Nelson and one other airman were officially declared deceased and their remains were never recovered.
At the time of his death, Nelson was married and had a two-year old daughter.
In 1947, remains of unknown airmen were disinterred from an Italian cemetery where they had been buried by local residents following the 1944 crash of an American bomber.
The remains were unable to be identified and were re-interred in the Florence, Italy American Cemetery in 1949.
New technology and historical investigations led to those remains being recovered again in August of 2015 by the Defense Department’s POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
DNA analysis and circumstantial evidence were used in the identification of Nelson’s remains in late 2016.
A memorial service with full military honors will be held at the Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Primghar on July 1st at 1:30 p.m. provided by the Iowa National Guard.
Nelson is survived by two grandsons and many nieces, nephews, and extended family members.