Fred L. Brewer Jr., 23, was one of 57 fighters assigned to escort bombers to their targets in Germany when he went missing in late 1944
The remains of a Tuskegee pilot have been identified nearly 79 years after he went missing during World War II.
"U.S. Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Fred L. Brewer Jr., 23, of Charlotte, North Carolina, killed during World War II, was accounted for Aug. 10, 2023," the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) said in a news release on Friday.
Another pilot who saw the incident in late 1944 said at the time that “Brewer had attempted a steep climb to get above the cloud cover,” but his P-51C Mustang — called Traveling Light — lost power in its engine, per the DPAA.
“It was reported Brewer’s aircraft had rolled over with the canopy jettisoned, but he was not observed ejecting from the plane," they added. "Brewer’s remains were not recovered, and he was subsequently declared missing in action.”
Brewer was flying with 56 other pilots to protect bombers from enemy fire over Regensburg, Germany, ABC News reported. Only 47 pilots made it back, per the outlet.
Back in 2011, researchers discovered a tribute had been made in Italy Americans who lost their lives in World War II using “airplane wreckage” from a “nearby crash site,” per the DPAA. “Around the same time, researchers analyzed the file for Unknown Remains X-125 Mirandola (X-125), which had been recovered but not identified from the Moggio Udinese civilian cemetery by American forces in 1946," they wrote.
Those remains, unidentifiable at the time, were taken to the Florence American Cemetery in Italy, the DPAA stated.
In 2022, the remains were dug up by the DPAA and American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) “for forensic analysis,” which were taken to the DPAA Laboratory “for examination and identification,” per the release.
“To identify Brewer’s remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence,” the DPAA said. “Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y-chromosome DNA (Y-STR) analysis.”
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Brewer’s name is on the Tablets of the Missing at the Florence American Cemetery in Impruneta, Italy, “along with others still missing from WWII,” per the release, which noted that a “rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.”
Brewer completed his education at Shaw University in Raleigh — the first college for Black people in the South, per ABC News. He joined the military in November 1943 and, in March 1944, became a pilot at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama, the outlet reported.
Brewer is the second of the missing Tuskegee Airmen from World War II to be identified, The Washington Post reported. The first was Capt. Lawrence E. Dickson of New York, who crashed his P-51 in Austria in 1944. According to the outlet, Dickinson was identified in 2018.
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