BROOKINGS, S.D. — The remains of a World War II fighter pilot from Brookings will be buried next week at Arlington National Cemetery more than 70 years after he took intense anti-aircraft fire while on a mission in Germany.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said in a statement that 1st Lt. Donald Beals will be buried Monday with full military honors. His remains were identified last year using mitochondrial DNA analysis, which matched a brother and a sister.
In April 1945, Beals was piloting a single-seat P-47D Thunderbolt on an armed reconnaissance mission. He was instructed to attack after spotting enemy aircraft on the ground near Lonnewitz, Germany, and was struck by anti-aircraft fire as he and his squadron leader started to dive.
Beals, 22, initially listed as missing in action after the attack, was declared dead in 1946. The next year, an American investigator found aircraft wreckage and machine guns — which had serial numbers corresponding to weapons in Beals’ airplane — at a crash site. The investigator couldn’t identify any human remains at the site and concluded they had disintegrated in an explosion.
In 2004, an investigation team near Dresden, Germany, went to a crash site at the direction of German researchers. Beals’ remains eventually were recovered in 2014.