The remains of a West Virginia World War II Veteran who was M.I.A for nearly 75 years have been returned home to Charleston.
Army Air Forces Sgt. John Kalausich, 19, of Charleston, West Virginia, killed during World War II.
On March 21, 1945, Kalausich was a member of the 642nd Bombardment Squadron, when his aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire and went missing during a combat mission from Couvron, France to Dülmen, Germany.
Kalausich, his pilot, 2nd Lt. Lynn W. Hadfield, and the other crewman, Sgt. Vernon Hamilton, had been participating in the interdiction campaign to obstruct German troop movements in preparation for the Allied crossing of the Rhine River on March 23, 1945.
After the war, the American Graves Registration Command extensively searched the area where the aircraft was believed to have crashed, however no crash sites could be positively matched with Kalausich’s aircraft. That was until December 13, 2018.
In June 2016, a German researcher, Adolph Hagedorn, who had previously collaborated with Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, JPAC (a predecessor to DPAA,) contacted DPAA historians regarding a crash site he had found in Hülsten-Reken, Germany, that could possibly be linked to Kalausich’s aircraft. In September 2016, Hagedorn led DPAA to the crash site in a horse paddock, where the aircraft matched the description of Kalausich’s.
In November and December 2016, under a partnership, History Flight, Inc., a nongovernmental organization, excavated the crash site, recovering aircraft material, life support equipment, personal effects and possible osseous material.
To identify Kalausich’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA analysis, dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence.
Currently there are 72,751 service members still unaccounted for from World War II. Kalausich’s name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Netherlands American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Margraten, Netherlands, along with the others missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
Sgt. Kalausich’s remains arrived in Charleston on Friday, February 21, 2019. He was greeted by his family members, including his 89 year-old sister. The West Virginia National Guard provided plane-side military honors.
Kalausich was laid to rest with full military honors on Saturday, February 23, 2019 at Tyler Mountain Memory Gardens in Cross Lanes Saturday.