LANSING, Mich. — The remains of a World War II pilot from Lansing, Michigan, who died in 1943 when the military aircraft he was flying crashed during combat over New Guinea have been laid to rest next to his parents.
U.S. Army Air Force 1st Lt. Robert Parker’s remains were buried Monday at Deepdale Memorial Cemetery, with many of his nieces and nephews and their children and grandchildren in attendance.
“So many people are here. Unfortunately, not his folks. I would have loved it if they had been here because they were heartbroken,” Jane Moore, a niece of Parker’s, told The Detroit News.
Parker, 23, a P-40N Warhawk pilot, was assigned to the 35th Fighter Squadron, 8th Fighter Group, at the time of his death. He was flying a patrol Nov. 15, 1943, when Japanese aircraft swarmed and shot down his plane and others over New Guinea.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said Parker’s plane could not be found during an aerial search, and he was initially declared missing in action and was presumed to be dead a year later.
In May 2019, nine years after third-party investigators found a portion of a P-40 tail and part of a tail number matching Parker’s plane, staff with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency obtained human remains and pieces of the aircraft from the crash site.
Investigators then used dental records, anthropological information, DNA analysis and other means to determine that the remains were of Parker.