Benson WWII soldier, killed on D-Day in France, to be laid to rest Saturday in Normandy American Cemetery
The remains of Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. William J. McGowan, a Benson native killed June 6, 1944, in France, will be buried in the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, on Saturday.
BENSON — Nearly 80 years after he was killed just miles away from the D-Day beach landings on June 6, 1944, in Normandy, France, Benson native Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. William J. McGowan will finally be laid to rest on Saturday in the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, overlooking Omaha Beach.
McGowan will be given full military honors during his interment, with members of his family in attendance, according to the American Battle Monuments Commission, which manages the cemetery.
McGowan, who was flying a mission in a P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft plane, crashed June 6, 1944, near the city of Saint-Lô, France, according to a 2020 press release from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Command.
The crash site was investigated in 1947, and his remains were considered non-recoverable. In 2010, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Command resurveyed the site and, in 2018, McGowan's remains were excavated. He was officially accounted for on May 13, 2019, by DPAA scientists, according to the commission.
"Burials like these are quite uncommon, as you can imagine, but remain an important reflection of the nation’s commitment to account for and honor every U.S. service member who has perished on foreign soil," said Ashleigh Byrnes, media operations manager for the American Battle Monuments Commission.
Approximately 20,668 Americans were killed during Operation Overlord, the code name for the Allied invasion of western Europe which was launched on what is now known as D-Day, June 6, 1944, according to U.S. military records. There are 9,386 burials in the Normandy American Cemetery. Another 1,557 names are inscribed on the Walls of the Missing.