World War II serviceman ID'd as Oakland man

August 6, 2010 7:14:39 PM PDT
The remains of a U.S. serviceman missing in action from World War II have been identified as those of an Oakland man whose plane went down during the bombing of Berlin.

For nearly seven decades, the family of airman Sgt. John Bonnassiolle could never bury him. He was missing in action when his bomber went down in World War II.

Bonnassiolle was aboard a B24J Liberator on April 29, 1944 with nine other crewmen flying a routine bombing mission near Berlin.

"He was the armored gunner, probably the worst position on the plane," Bonnassiolle's brother Andrew Kelly said.

German documents captured after the war established that the aircraft had crashed near the town of East Meitze, Germany.

"My brother's plane came down totally out of control; it crashed, caught on fire and the ammunition, the bombs ignited and they all went off," Kelly said.

Seven years ago, Germans found human remains during an excavation near the crash site. A POW-MIA team continued digging, recovering more remains and pieces from the B24.

Kelly says their sister Paulette traveled to the site and made an incredible discovery.

"She found the exact spot; she walked in it and picked up a piece of the plane and a thing off my brothers uniform," he said.

That thing was the label above his shirt pocket. His name was on it.

Subsequent DNA tests proved the remains were those of their brother.

Kelly says Tuesday will be the ending of a long unfinished family mystery.

Bonnassiolle will be buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma with full military honors, including an Air Force fly by.


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