WASHINGTON, D.C. (WNCN) — Nearly 80 years after a North Carolina Tuskegee Airman went missing during World War II, his remains were identified.
On Aug. 10, the Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency identified the remains of Second Lieutenant Fred L. Brewer Jr., who went missing during World War II.
Second Lieutenant Brewer joined the U.S. Army Air Forces from North Carolina, was a Tuskegee Airman and member of the 100th Fighter Squadron, 332nd Fighter group.
The DPAA said on Oct. 19, 1944, he flew a single-seat P-51C Mustang (tail number 43-25108, nicknamed “Traveling Light”) out of Ramitelli Air Field in Italy. Second Lieutenant Brewer was one of 57 fighters on a bomber escort mission over enemy targets in Regensburg, Germany.
The flight left Ramitelli and split fighters into three groups over the Udine area of Italy to continue to the target area. The DPAA said heavy cloud cover forced nine fighters to return to Ramitelli early, and none of the other fighters could locate their bomber aircraft or the target.
According to the DPAA, 47 fighters returned to base, and 2nd Lt. Brewer was not with them. Reports from other pilots on the mission said that 2nd Lt. Brewer was trying to climb his aircraft out of the cloud cover but stalled out and fell into a spin.
After the war, a body was recovered by U.S. personnel from a civilian cemetery in the area, but the remains could not be identified using techniques available at the time and were interred as unknown.
The DPAA said in 2011, researchers examined the case of the unknown remains and discovered that an Italian police report indicated they were recovered from a crashed fighter plane on the same day as 2nd Lt. Brewer’s disappearance. German wartime records also confirmed the report.
In June 2022, the remains were disinterred and sent to a DPAA laboratory for further study. The evidence allowed a positive identification of the remains as those of 2nd Lt. Brewer.
The DPAA said 2nd Lt. Brewer is memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing at the Florence American Cemetery in Impruneta, Italy.
If you are a descendant of 2nd Lt. Brewer, you can contact you casualty office representative to learn more about your service member here.