Bird, Vernal J., 2LT

Fallen
 
 Photo In Uniform   Service Details
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Last Rank
Second Lieutenant
Last Service Branch
Aviation
Last Primary MOS
AAF MOS 1060-Pilot, Night Fighter, Two-Engine
Last MOS Group
Aviation (Enlisted)
Primary Unit
1944-1944, AAF MOS 1060, USAAF 5th Air Force
Service Years
1941 - 1944

Aviation

Second Lieutenant


 Last Photo   Personal Details 

9 kb

Home State
Utah
Utah
Year of Birth
1918
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SFC Ken Logue-Deceased to remember Bird, Vernal J., 2LT.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Lindon
Last Address
Not Specified

Casualty Date
Mar 12, 1944
 
Cause
Hostile, Died
Reason
Air Loss, Crash - Land
Location
Papua New Guinea
Conflict
WWII - Asiatic-Pacific Theater
Location of Interment
Evergreen Cemetery - Springville, Utah
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 




 Unofficial Badges 




 Military Association Memberships
World War II Fallen
  1944, World War II Fallen [Verified]

 Photo Album   (More...


 Ribbon Bar

AAF Pilot Badge

 
 Unit Assignments
USAAF 5th Air Force
  1944-1944, AAF MOS 1060, USAAF 5th Air Force
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1943-1944 WWII - Asiatic-Pacific Theater/New Guinea Campaign (1943-44)
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
On March 12, 1944, Bird, a member of the 13th Bombardment Squadron, 3rd bombardment Group, 5th Air Force,, was the pilot of an A-20G Havoc aircraft (#42-86625) on an attack mission over the island of New Guinea. Other airmen in the formation saw Bird’s aircraft lagging behind, and reported the last known location of the aircraft was “about half way down the
run over Boram Airstrip.”
 
Bird’s aircraft did not return to base and attempts to locate the aircraft, both during and after the war, were unsuccessful.
 
In 2001, a team from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) located an aircraft crash site in a remote area of Papua New Guinea. A local resident gave the JPAC team human remains and four aircraft data plates that correlate to Bird’s A-20G aircraft, which he claimed to have recovered from the wreckage. All of the evidence was taken to JPAC’s laboratory in Hawaii, for analysis.

In 2011, JPAC relocated the crash site, which contained significant amounts of aircraft wreckage. JPAC has not yet completed a full excavation of the site.
 
   
Comments/Citation

Only a sole surviving sibling has a distant memory of a World War II pilot whose recently identified remains will be buried Saturday with full military honors in Utah.



U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Vernal J. Bird had more than a dozen brothers and sisters when he crashed over a Pacific Ocean island nearly 70 years ago. He disappeared over Papua New Guinea on a 1944 bombing run of Japanese airfields there. He was 25.



The crash site was discovered 12 years ago, but it wasn't until this summer that the Air Force was able to identify partial remains found there as belonging to Bird.



This week, about 150 distant relatives showed up at the Salt Lake airport as those remains — only a single leg bone was recovered — arrived inside a flag-draped casket on an airliner.



None of them knew Bird personally. His younger sister, Elaine Bird Jack of Eugene, Ore., is his lone surviving sibling and the only one who has a memory of him, said Lorna Bird Snyder, the airman's 66-year-old niece.



The 92-year-old Jack is in Utah for the burial at Evergreen Cemetery in Springville, Snyder told The Associated Press. She was the 13th child of the family; Bird was the 12th.



Jack provided a DNA sample that was used to identify her brother's fibula, the outer and thinner of the long bones of a lower leg.



Relatives are hoping a full excavation of the crash site will yield more remains, Snyder said.



The Air Force is moving cautiously because a 500-pound unexploded bomb is still attached to the A-20G Havoc bomber.



The remains of Bird's co-pilot, Staff Sgt. Roy Davis from New Hampshire, have not been found.



The crash site on a forested mountainside was discovered in 2001 by a Papuan national, who delivered the fibula along with engine identification plates of the bomber to an American recovery team.



The Air Force identified the bone as Bird's in July.



In the airman's last letter to his family, he described how he flew his light bomber barely above tree-top level, saying "we fly right in the leaves at times." It was written two days before his bomber went down March 12, 1944.



His niece spent years researching where — over the Pacific Ocean or New Guinea — his plane might have gone down. She compared boxes of the airman's letters against records of the American-Australian effort against the Japanese.



If not for Snyder's dogged efforts, the recovered bone might never have gotten a DNA comparison.



Vernal Bird was born Oct. 29, 1918, in Lindon to Walter F. and Christina Pearsson Ash Bird. He attended schools in Lindon and Pleasant Grove. The family later moved to Springville, another Utah County town, according to an obituary.


   
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