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WW2 bomber crash remains found to be Monroe native

Stevens with his Marauder crew
U.S. Army
Stevens with his Marauder crew

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that U.S. Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Henry L. Stevens, 23, of Monroe, Louisiana, killed during World War II, was accounted for Sept 15, 2023.

In late 1944, Stevens was assigned to the 557th Bombardment Squadron, 387th Bombardment Group, Ninth U.S. Air Force, in the European Theater of Operations. On Dec. 23, Stevens was a crewmember aboard a B-26F “Marauder” aircraft, nicknamed Shirley D, which was shot by anti-aircraft fire over Bitburg, Germany, while returning from a bombing raid. Witness reported Shirley D took damage to the right engine, resulting in a massive fire which forced crewmen to bail out. Survivors watched Shirley D crash near Winville, Belgium, with several crewmembers, including Stevens, still onboard.

A few days after the crash, several Belgian residents recovered one set of remains from the crash site near Houmont and turned them over to American forces operating in the area. American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) personnel initially identified the pilot, while the other set of remains remained Unknown. By Dec. 26, 1944, everyone from Stevens’s aircraft had been identified and accounted for except for Stevens, and he was declared non-recoverable.

In 2013, DPAA personnel returned to the crash site near Winville, Belgium, where they recovered materials associated with the crashed B-26. Later in 2019, while working in conjunction with researchers from the University of Wisconsin, possible remains were located and sent to the DPAA laboratory for testing and possible identification.

To identify Stevens’s remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and autosomal DNA (auSTR) analysis.

Stevens’s name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Ardennes American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Neupré, Belgium, along with others still missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Stevens will be buried on March 8, 2024, in Bushnell, Florida.

DPAA published a story in June 2021 about Stevens’s recent recovery effort, which can be read here: