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Missing WWII Marine from Redwood City Identified

James A. Sisney and six other marines identified this week have been missing since 1944.

The remains of a World War II marine from Redwood City missing in action since 1944 have been identified, the Department of Defense announced Tuesday.

James A. Sisney of Redwood City is among seven Marines aboard a PBJ-1 aircraft that failed to return from a night training mission over the island of Espiritu Santo, in what is known today as Vanuatu, on April 22, 1944.

None of the seven crew members were recovered at that time, and in 1945 they were officially presumed deceased.  

Two months ago, Sisney's body was returned to the Bay Area and given a proper military funeral at Golden Gate National Cemetery. View the video here

In 1994, a group of private citizens notified the U.S. that aircraft wreckage had been found on the island of Espiritu Santo. Human remains were recovered from the site at that time and turned over to the Department of Defense. 

In 1999, a Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) survey team traveled to the location.

The crash site was located at an elevation of 2,600 ft., in extremely rugged terrain, and the team determined that specialized mountain training would be necessary to safely complete a recovery mission.

From 2000 to 2011, multiple JPAC recovery teams excavated the site and recovered human remains, aircraft parts and military equipment. 

To identify the remains, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) evaluated circumstantial evidence and mitochondrial DNA -- which matched that of the Marines’ family members.

Marine Corps 1st Lt. Laverne A. Lallathin of Raymond, Wash.; 2nd Lt. Dwight D. Ekstam of Moline, Ill.; 2nd Lt. Walter B. Vincent, Jr. of Tulsa, Okla.; Tech. Sgt. James A. Sisney of Redwood City, Calif.; Cpl. Wayne R. Erickson of Minneapolis; Cpl. John D. Yeager of Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Pfc. John A. Donovan of Plymouth, Mich., will be buried as a group, in a single casket representing the crew, on Thursday, in Arlington National Cemetery.

Lallathin, also individually identified, will be interred individually at Arlington on the same day as the group interment.

More than 73,000 Americans remain unaccounted-for from the conflict. 

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