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NH airman's remains from World War II to be buried Saturday

New Hampshire Union Leader

June 17. 2018 9:36PM


PETERBOROUGH — The partial remains of a Peterborough World War II airman — a gunner missing since 1944 — will be buried with full military honors next weekend in Massachusetts.

Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Roy Davis, 26, served as a gunner aboard an A-20G Havoc bomber as a member of the 13th Bombardment Squadron, 3rd Bombardment Group.

He and the pilot, identified by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) as Lt. Vernal J. Bird, were aboard the plane on March 12, 1944, when it failed to return to base in northeastern New Guinea after attacking enemy targets on the island.

Attempts to locate the aircraft and crew, both during and after the war, were unsuccessful. According to the DPAA, the War Department declared Davis and Bird deceased on June 30, 1949. Their remains were listed as non-recoverable.

In September 2001, a team from the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory, a predecessor to DPAA, located a crash site in a remote area of Papua New Guinea. A native Papuan turned over pieces of wreckage he claimed to have recovered from the crash site.

The team also recovered remains, which were identified as Bird’s on July 15, 2013.

In February and March 2016, a DPAA recovery team found additional remains and material evidence while excavating the crash site. The remains were sent to the DPAA laboratory.

To identify Davis’ remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA analysis to match them to family members, as well as dental records.

Roy was born in 1918, the son of Chester and Gertrude (Hamilton) Davis of Ashby, Mass. He was the oldest of five sons and grew up in several New Hampshire towns, but he referred to Peterborough as his hometown.

Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 72,917 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II.

Davis’ name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in the Philippines, along with the other MIAs from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

According to his obituary, Davis is survived by his brother Norman Davis and his wife, Pat, of Peterborough; brother Gerald Davis and his wife, Michele, of Epsom; brother Kenneth Davis of Hancock; their children and grandchildren, cousins, Marilyn Rivers of Fitchburg, Mass., Gail Ferguson of Lunenburg, Mass., and Anne Marloux of Atkinson, Maine.

Davis will be buried with full military honors at Glen Wood Cemetery in Ashby, Mass., on Saturday, June 23. The public is invited.

Peterborough History Veterans

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