Finally coming home: Remains of missing World War II serviceman returning to family

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio -- The remains of a U.S. serviceman missing from World War II have been accounted for and will finally be returned to his family.

Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Marvin B. Rothman, of Cleveland Heights, was 21 when he was assigned to the 311th Fighter Squadron, 58th Fighter Squadron Group on April 11, 1944.

He was the pilot of a single-seat P-47D Thunderbolt on a bombing escort mission with 15 other Thunderbolts to Wewak, Territory of New Guinea, when he was attacked by an enemy fighter aircraft.

When the escort flight returned from the mission, Rothman and two other pilots were reported missing, according to a release from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

The War Department declared Rothman deceased as of Feb. 6, 1946.

In September 1946, a U.S. infantry officer informed the American Graves Registration Service in New Guinea that an Australian War Graves team had recovered the remains of a suspected American airman. They'd found the wreckage of an aircraft with a partial serial number matching that of Rothman's plane.

In November 1946, AGRS personnel tried to confirm his identity based on dental records. But the dental charts were incomplete, and an ID could not be established.

Based on the lack of evidence, an AGRS board declared Rothman to be non-recoverable in January 1950.

Then, in July 2004, a contractor for the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command investigated a crash site found by residents in a New Guinea village. They also found the plate matching the serial number of Rothman's plane.

A U.S. recovery team returned to the site in August 2009 and recovered possible human remains and other artifacts.

Scientists were able to use anthropological and circumstantial evidence along with dental analysis, which then matched Rothman's records.

Rothman's name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery along with other MIAs from WWII. A rosette will also be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Rothman will be buried April 19 with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.