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United States Navy Aircrew
14 June 1942
May 9, 2006:

NAVY AIRMEN MISSING IN ACTION FROM WORLD WAR II ARE IDENTIFIED

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of seven U.S. servicemen, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

The are Ensign Leland L. Davis, Jackson, Miss.; Ensign Robert F. Keller, Wichita, Kan.; Seaman 2nd Class Elwin Alford, Bogalusa, La.; Seaman 2nd Class Dee Hall, Syria, Okla.; Aviation Machinist Mate John H. Hathaway, Lafayette, Ind.; Aviation Radioman 2nd Class Robert A. Smith, Glen Dive, Mont.; and Aviation Pilot 3rd Class Albert J. Gyorfi, Wilbur, Wash.; all U.S. Navy.

The group remains of all seven are to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, as are the individually-identified remains of Davis, Alford and Hathaway. Hall has already been buried in Oklahoma, and individual burials for the others are being set by the families.

The seven man crew was aboard a U.S. Navy PBY-5 Catalina which took off from Kodiak Island, Alaska, on June 14, 1942, to attack Japanese targets in Kiska Harbor.

They encountered inclement weather near the target, as well as heavy Japanese anti-aircraft fire. Their plane crashed on the Japanese-held island of Kiska with all seven aboard. In August 1943, the U.S. retook Kiska Island from the Japanese. Wreckage of the PBY-5 was found on the side of Kiska Volcano. The remains of the crew were buried in a common grave marked “Seven U.S.N. Airmen” with a wooden marker. Following the war, attempts to locate the common grave were unsuccessful and the remains of all seven were declared to be non-recoverable. In 2002, a wildlife biologist notified DPMO that he had found the wreckage of a WWII aircraft on the slope of Kiska Volcano. Using that information, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command
(JPAC) excavated the crash site in August 2003 where they found debris from the PBY-5 as well as crew-related items. The JPAC team also located the wooden marker as well as the remains buried nearby. Subsequent JPAC laboratory analysis led to the individual identifications of all seven crewmembers.

Approximately 78,000 servicemembers are unaccounted-for from World War II War. For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1169.

Elwin Alford
Seaman, Second Class, U.S. Navy
Service # 2746380
United States Navy 
Entered the Service from: Louisiana
Died: 15-Jun-43
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Honolulu Memorial
Honolulu, Hawaii
Awards: Purple Heart

ALFORD, ELWIN
S2C   US NAVY
WORLD WAR II
DATE OF DEATH: 06/14/1942
BURIED AT: SECTION 60  SITE 8345
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

Family thrilled to find brother's remains

"It is just something we can hardly believe," said Dot Alford of Hattiesburg, when notified that the Navy was searching for a member of their family. She is the wife of Holbert Alford of Hattiesburg, a brother to Petty Officer Elwin Alford, whose body has been recovered from the Aleutian Islands after 63 years. He was killed in World War II and the Navy has been searching for the family, who are former Bogalusans.

Thanks to the work of some interested parish people, members of the Alford family have been located. Fran Murray of Bogalusa remembered that they knew one of the brothers in Poplarville many years ago and after a couple of well-placed phone calls, she had Mrs. Jewel Alford of Poplarville on the telephone.

Jewel Alford, who was the oldest son, died eight years ago, his wife Oree Alford said in a telephone interview this morning. She was able to contact other members of the family, living in Hattiesburg, Texas and Tennessee.

"Elwin was one of the youngest of the children and he was a precious boy, never in any trouble like so many, " Mrs. Alford remembered. "He wanted to join the Navy and fight for our country."

She said all the family has ever known was that he was missing in action. In 63 years, she was not aware of anything else they had ever been told.

"Holbert was just over come with emotion when he heard Elwin's body had been recovered," said Dot Alford, the wife of another brother, Holbert Alford. Holbert, who lives in Hattiesburg, was at work and could not be reached.

"It was such a shock after all this time. Holbert is re-living the whole thing.

It brings back so many memories. This family has gone through so much." she said.

Holbert was the youngest child and Elwin was just a little older. Their brother, E.J. Alford, died about two years ago. Another brother, Spurgeon Alford, lives in Tennessee and a sister, Marjorie Mixon, lives in Texas.

"Of course we are proud that he has been found and that at last we know what happened to him, but it is still a shock after so many years," Dot Alford said.

Dot Alford said all five Alford sons served in the military. Besides Elwin in the Navy, Holbert joined a year after his brother was declared missing and served in the Army and the Air Force for 13 years, E.J. retired from the Navy, Spurgeon was in the Air Force and Jewel was in the Navy.

"Their mother was a five-star mother," she said.

A memorial service was held for Elwin after so many years missing and a memorial stone was placed in the Hurricane Creek Baptist Church Cemetery near Sandy Hook MS, where his parents, Warren E. and Belle H. Alford are buried. .

The family is waiting for further news from the Navy as to when the body will be brought from Hawaii.

"It will at last bring closure to this family," Oree Alford said.

Louisiana State Flag
 

Purple Heart Medal

Leland L. Davis
Ensign, U.S. Navy
Service # 0-146517
United States Navy
Entered the Service from: Mississippi
Died: 15-Jun-43
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Honolulu Memorial
Honolulu, Hawaii
Awards: Navy Cross, Purple Heart

DAVIS, LELAND L
ENS   US NAVY
WORLD WAR II
DATE OF BIRTH: 03/25/1917
DATE OF DEATH: 06/14/1942
BURIED AT: SECTION 60  SITE 8345 
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

LL Davis Gravesite PHOTO

Mississippi state Flag

Navy Cross Purple Heart Medal

Albert John Gyorfi
Aviation Pilot, Third Class, U.S. Navy
Service # 3857677
United States Navy
Entered the Service from: Washington
Died: 15-Jun-43
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Honolulu Memorial
Honolulu, Hawaii
Awards: Air Medal, Purple Heart

GYORFI, ALBERT J
 AP3C   US NAVY
DATE OF BIRTH: 02/28/1919
DATE OF DEATH: 06/14/1942
BURIED AT: SECTION 60  SITE 8345 
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

Washington State Flag

Air Medal Purple Heart Medal

Dee Hall
Seaman, Second Class, U.S. Navy
Service # 3603937
United States Navy
Entered the Service from: Texas
Died: 15-Jun-43
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Honolulu Memorial
Honolulu, Hawaii
Awards: Air Medal, Purple Heart

HALL, DEE
S2C   US NAVY
WORLD WAR II
DATE OF BIRTH: 03/09/1924
DATE OF DEATH: 06/14/1942
BURIED AT: SECTION 60  SITE 8345
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

Texas State Flag

Air Medal Purple Heart Medal

John Harvey Hathaway
Aviation Machinist's Mate, Second Class, U.S. Navy
Service # 3105755
United States Navy
Entered the Service from: California
Died: 15-Jun-43
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Honolulu Memorial
Honolulu, Hawaii 
Awards: Air Medal, Purple Heart

HATHAWAY, JOHN H
AMM2   US NAVY
WORLD WAR II
DATE OF BIRTH: 03/04/1901
DATE OF DEATH: 06/14/1942
BURIED AT: SECTION 60  SITE 8345 
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

California State Flag

Air Medal Purple Heart Medal

Robert F. Keller
Ensign, U.S. Navy
Service # 0-106156
United States Naval Reserve
Entered the Service from: Kansas
Died: 15-Jun-43
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Honolulu Memorial
Honolulu, Hawaii
Awards: Air Medal, Purple Heart

KELLER, ROBERT F
ENS   US NAVY
WORLD WAR II
DATE OF BIRTH: 01/16/1918
DATE OF DEATH: 06/14/1942
BURIED AT: SECTION 60  SITE 8345
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

Kansas State Flag

Air Medal Purple Heart Medal

Robert Arthur Smith
Aviation Radioman, Second Class, U.S. Navy
Service # 4072460
United States Naval Reserve
Entered the Service from: Oregon
Died: 15-Jun-43
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Honolulu Memorial
Honolulu, Hawaii
Awards: Air Medal, Purple Heart

SMITH, ROBERT A
ARM2C   US NAVY
WORLD WAR II
DATE OF BIRTH: 08/06/1916
DATE OF DEATH: 06/14/1942
BURIED AT: SECTION 60  SITE 8345
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

Oregon State Flag

Air Medal Purple Heart Medal

  Posted: 2 September 2006   . 

US Navy Aircrew: 12 June 1942 Gravesite PHOTO
Photo Courtesy of Holly, September 2006