UTAH (ABC4) – The remains of a missing World War II soldier from Salt Lake City were identified and accounted for by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) in March earlier this year.

In 1943, Sargent Elvin L. Phillips of the U.S. Army Air Forces was assigned to the 66th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 55th Bombardment Group (Heavy), 8th Air Force. He was 23 years old when the B-24 Liberator aircraft, on which he was serving as a tail gunner, was shot down during Operation TIDAL WAVE in August 1943. Phillips’ remains were not identified following the war and were buried as Unknowns in the Hero Section of the Civilian and Military Cemetery of Bolovan, Ploiesti, Prahova, Romania.

Operation TIDAL WAVE was the largest bombing mission targeting oil fields and refineries at Ploiesti, located north of Bucharest, Romania. As the Liberator approached Ploiesti, it was hit by anti-aircraft fire, which struck and killed Phillips and heavily damaged the aircraft. Two of the nine crew members were able to bail off the aircraft but the remaining seven, including Phillips, were still aboard the Liberator when it crashed while leaving Ploiesti. 

In 2017, DPAA began exhuming Unknowns believed to be associated with unaccounted-for airmen from Operation TIDAL WAVE losses. Those remains were sent to the DPAA Laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska for examination and identification.

Scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis to identify Phillips’ remains. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA, Y chromosome DNA, and autosomal DNA analysis.

Phillips’ name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Florence American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commissions site located in Impruneta, Italy, along with others still missing from World War II. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for. 

Sergeant Phillips is also memorialized on the Wall of the Missing at the Cambridge American Cemetery in England.

Phillips will be buried in Bluffdale, Utah, at an undetermined date.