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Minnesota WWII veteran's remains identified after more than 70 years

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency says Brownton native Lt. Alan E. Petersen was identified over the summer after being shot down over Romania during the war.

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Editor's Note: The video above originally aired on Sept. 2, 2021.

A Brownton veteran who was just 23 when he died during WWII will finally be buried in Minnesota after his remains were identified this summer.

U.S. Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Alan E. Petersen was killed on Aug. 1, 1943, while serving as a bombardier during Operation TIDAL WAVE, a bombing mission over Romania. According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), Petersen's B-24 Liberator plane was shot down by enemy fire, and his remains went unidentified for decades.

Petersen's body was first buried in the Hero Section of the Civilian and Military Cemetery of Bolovan, Ploiesti, Prahova, Romania, before the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC) removed all remains from the cemetery for identification after the war.

At that time, Petersen's remains still were unidentifiable and reinterred in Belgium.

Then in 2017, the DPAA started to exhume WWII remains believed to be associated with Operation TIDAL WAVE. The laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska examined and identified the bodies, and in July of this year positively identified Lt. Petersen using dental, anthropological, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y chromosome DNA (Y-STR) analysis.

According to a newspaper clipping posted after his disappearance, Petersen operated a mink ranch near Brownton before enlisting. He was commissioned on Dec. 6, 1942, and was a veteran of 47 bombing missions during the war before his plane was shot down.

The DPAA says Petersen will be buried in Glencoe on Oct. 30, 2021, and anyone looking for family or funeral information should contact the Army Casualty Office at (800) 892-2490.

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