SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The remains of a World War II airman from Eureka, South Dakota will soon be returning home.
Officials with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced that 23-year-old U.S. Army Air Forces Staff Sergeant Walter Nies was accounted for back in August. In 1944, Nies was a tail gunner on a bomber that was forced to crash land, according to a news release from the DPAA.
Nies and his crew were captured by Germans and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp.
Nies died after being shot — German reports say he was trying to escape, but fellow prisoners say he was shot while on his way to the latrine.
After the war, the organization searching for and recovering fallen American personnel was unable to recover Nies’ remains because Stalag Luft 6 was deep inside the Soviet occupation zone. Stalag Luft 6 is located now in Lithuania where Ohio Valley Archeology, Inc. helped excavate possible gravesites in August 2021.
The remains found at that site were sent to the DPAA Laboratory at the Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska for analysis.
To identify Nies’ remains, scientists used dental and anthropological analysis as well as material and circumstantial evidence.
The DPAA says Nies will be buried on Dec. 9th in Eureka.