60 Years After Going Missing In WWII
April 29, 1944. Sgt.
John Bonnassiolle -- "Jack" to his friends -- was a gunner aboard a
B-24, flying only his third combat mission, when his bomber was
shot down. All ten crew members were killed. The wreckage and the
crew's bodies remained lost.
Paulette Gooch was only seven years old when her brother, Jack,
died. Since that day, she's often wondered what became of her
brother. She says it haunted her, not knowing what happened, not
knowing that Jack had finally been laid to rest.
"I thought about all the years my brother and I could have
shared and the family he might have had," she said.
But the ghost that has haunted Paulette Gooch for 60 years this
month may soon come home to rest for all eternity.
Four years ago, after decades of worry, she finally decided to
do something to find her brother and his lost crewmates. "I really
wasn't very hopeful about it," she said.
Her mother wasn't much help. Even though still alive at 101, she
hasn't been able -- or willing -- to provide Paulette with much
information. It just hurt too much.
So Paulette turned to her computer. She soon found that her
brother's name had been inscribed on a war memorial in the
Netherlands. Then she went to a B-24 site and asked for help.
Boy, did she get it.
First, she found other flyers who had witnessed her brother's
aircraft go down. Then she found the Missing Allied Air Crew
Research Team, a European group that searches for clues about
missing Allied airmen. Just a few days before hearing from
Paulette, the group had ironically started its own search for
Bonnassiolle's missing bomber. They found a possible site for
excavation, a dig they hoped would yield the bodies of the missing
Americans. For an entire summer, the non-profit research team dug
in a farm plot until they found a wadded up piece of cloth.
It was John Bonnassiolle's uniform name tag.
Since then, the US Army has taken over the crash site. More
information about the aircraft as well as human remains have been
found. The remains are being DNA-tested for identification.
Paulette hopes that her brother's bones might be quickly identified
so she can share her growing peace of mind with her mother before