WASHINGTON (KSNW) — The remains of a Kansas Army Air Forces airman killed in action in Europe have been identified.

Staff Sgt. Robert C. Elliott and his crew (Courtesy: United States Air Force)

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) says U.S. Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Robert C. Elliott’s remains were officially accounted for on Feb. 8, 2023. Sgt. Elliott was originally from Plains in Meade County.

In the summer of 1943, Elliott, 24, was assigned to the 343rd Bombardment Squadron, 98th Bombardment Group, 9th Air Force. He was an assistant engineer on a B-24 Liberator nicknamed the Damfino.

The B-24 Liberator was built by Consolidated Aircraft Corporation. It earned the nickname “Flying Coffin” because it was not as durable as the B-17, and its heavy controls made it difficult to fly.

Consolidated B-24 Liberator
Consolidated B-24 Liberator photographed during World War II (Courtesy USAF)

On Aug. 1, Damfino and her crew took part in Operation Tidalwave. The large-scale bombing mission against targeted oil fields and refineries at Ploiesti, north of Bucharest, Romania. The Damfino was hit by anti-aircraft fire and shot down.

Operation Tidalwave is often called the “bloodiest air battle” of World War II. Of the 178 B-24s that took part, only 88 made it back to their home base in Lybia. Over 300 airmen were killed or listed as missing following the battle, according to the DPAA, including Sgt. Elliott and the rest of the crew of the Damfino.

Newspaper clipping of Elliot’s MIA status (Courtesy DPAA)

His remains were not identified, and he was buried as one of the “Unknowns” in the Hero Section of the Civilian and Military Cemetery of Bolovan, Ploiesti, Prahova, Romania.

After the war, those remains were removed by the American Graves Registration Command. However, Elliott’s were among 80 remains they were not able to identify that were sent to be permanently interred at Ardennes American Cemetery and Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, both in Belgium.

In 2017, the remains of the unknown buried in the Ardennes were exhumed. They were sent to the DPAA Laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, for examination and identification. Scientists used anthropological evidence along with mitochondrial DNA, Y chromosome DNA, and autosomal DNA analysis to finally identify Sgt. Elliott.

(Courtesy DPAA)

His remains will be returned to Kansas and will be buried on Aug. 1, 2023, in Plains.