During a solemn ceremony today, US military members paid final respects to what they believe may be the remains of one to two crew members from a B-24 bomber that crashed on a supply run from India to China over the Himalayan Mountains.
Eight people on the plane were killed in the crash. For the first time, the US military is bringing home remains of missing military members from India.
Two bone fragments along with some other artifacts were found during a US excavation in the rugged mountains of Arunachal Pradesh.
Wednesday’s ceremony at the airport in New Delhi was overseen by US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter who has been in India for negotiations on military cooperation.
The previous UPA government had stopped the US’ attempts at recovering the remains of its soldiers following objections by China, which claims Arunachal Pradesh is its territory. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government agreed to America’s request to locate and take back the remains of its soldiers.
An estimated 350 US service members are still classified as missing in India.
The B-24 bomber – known as Hot As Hell – went missing with its crew of eight in January 1944. The aircraft was one of many that ran supplies from China to India.
Along with the bone fragments, the US team that carried out the excavation found other items associated with the crash but no personal effects, such as dog tags or watches, that could identify the crew.