SoCal Man Killed in World War II Set for Final Journey Home

WWII bomber B17 Fortress flying

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A World War II bomber pilot shot down over Germany and killed in 1944 is set to make his final journey home today, with multiple law enforcement agencies and first responders expected to line the route as his remains arrive at LAX and are carried to a mortuary.

First Lt. Ernest Roth of Los Angeles served with 359th Bombardment Squadron, 303rd Bombardment Group, Eighth Air Force, and went missing on May 19, 1944, while on a bombing run over Berlin, according to Laura Herzog, founder and executive director of Honoring Our Fallen.

His bomber, carrying a crew of 10 people, was hit by flak and crashed. Six of the 10 crew members were killed, including Roth. The rest were captured and became prisoners of war. According to the U.S. Defense Department's POW/MIA Accounting Agency, Roth was recovered by German forces and reportedly buried in the Doberitz cemetery.

Following the war, the agency tasked with investigating and recovering missing Americans found a set of unknown remains designated X-4801 Neuville in a grave nearby that was thought to either be Roth or another American. In 2016, historians began focused research on eight sets of unknown remains recovered from Doberitz and concluded there were four possible casualties that could be associated with X-4801 Neuville.

In June 2018, the Department of Defense and the American Battle Monuments Commission exhumed X-4801 and transferred the remains to the DPAA Laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.

To identify Roth's remains, scientists used anthropological analysis, along with circumstantial evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA analysis.

U.S. Defense officials said his remains were positively identified and accounted for on Feb. 4, 2020.

Roth's arrival at Los Angeles International Airport, expected around 5:30 p.m., will be a private gathering for family, but Honoring Our Fallen is asking the public to help show gratitude by lining the route with flags to honor Roth as he is returned home.

The procession is scheduled to travel south on Sepulveda Boulevard, east on the Century (105) Freeway, north on the San Diego (405) Freeway, east on Wilshire Boulevard and south on Glendon Avenue to Pierce Brothers Westwood Village.

Roth will have a private funeral Friday at Los Angeles National Cemetery.

Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.

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