World War II Chicago airman’s remains identified decades after fatal crash. ‘It’s sort of a miracle,’ great-nephew says.

Second Lt. Walter B. Miklosh had completed a bombing raid in Japan when the B-29 he was on crashed in a rice paddy in India.

SHARE World War II Chicago airman’s remains identified decades after fatal crash. ‘It’s sort of a miracle,’ great-nephew says.
Walter B. Miklosh was a World War II airman from Chicago.

Second Lt. Walter B. Miklosh was a 21-year-old member of the U.S. Army Air Forces from Chicago who died after his plane crashed in India. His remains were identified in May.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

The remains of a World War II airman from Chicago were identified earlier this year in India, nearly 80 years after he died in a plane crash during the war.

Second Lt. Walter B. Miklosh, 21, was the navigator on a B-29 Superfortress that took part in a June 1944 bombing raid against a steel mill on Japan’s Kyushu Island.

Returning from the attack, the U.S. Army Air Forces plane crashed into a rice paddy in Sapekhati, a village in eastern India, killing the entire 11-man crew, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

Ed Miklosh, the airman’s great-nephew and one of his few living relatives, was born in Oak Lawn, grew up in Joliet and now lives in Fort Pierce, Florida.

Ed Miklosh’s dad, Stanley Miklosh Jr., was 2 when his uncle’s plane went down. Stanley Miklosh, who was born and raised in Chicago, died last year at age 80.

It wasn’t until the final year of his life that Stanley Miklosh talked about his uncle.

“He just told us a little bit about it, that he had an uncle who was missing in action and his plane was shot down during the war,” Ed Miklosh said. “Maybe because he was sick and getting older, but he wanted to share more stories about our family and talk about stuff that meant something to him.”

Miklosh just wishes his dad was alive to know his uncle was finally found.

“It’s nice to know that they found him and that someone in our family was in the military and did some good,” Miklosh said. “It’s nice that the government doesn’t forget these people and actually goes to try and find them. ... It’s sort of a miracle.”

A rescue team initially recovered and identified the remains of only seven men, and Walter Miklosh was declared “nonrecoverable” in January 1948. He served in the Army Air Forces in the 678th Bombardment Squadron of the 444th Bombardment Group.

The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command searched the crash site again in October 2014, and the wreckage was excavated in 2018 and 2019, and additional evidence and remains were found.

Finally, in May, the remains of Miklosh were identified by scientists from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and Armed Forces Medical Examiner System who used material evidence and Y chromosome analysis.

Miklosh will be buried in Sierra Vista, Arizona, though no date has been set. He is memorialized on the Walls of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines.

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