Wichita Falls airman killed during World War II accounted for

State News

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KFDX/KJTL) — An airman from Wichita Falls who was killed during World War II has now been accounted for after his remains were identified.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced Tuesday, October 5 that U.S. Air Forces 1st Lt. Jack K. Wood, 24, of Wichita Falls, was accounted for on June 4, 2021.

Wood was born in Lawton, Oklahoma on January 24, 1919, but attended public schools in Wichita Falls, where he later worked at a department store prior to enlisting in the Air Corps in 1940.

In the summer of 1943, Wood was assigned to the 344th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 98th Bombardment Group (Heavy), 9th Air Force.

Lt. Wood was the flight navigator on the B-24 Liberator nicknamed “Vulgar Virgin.”

On August 1, 1943, the aircraft on which Wood was serving as a navigator crashed as a result of enemy anti-aircraft fire during Operation TIDAL WAVE, the largest bombing mission against the oil fields and refineries at Ploiesti, north of Bucharest, Romania.

Wood’s remains were not identified following the mission.

Of Wood’s crew, only the pilot, Capt. Wallas Taylor of California was accounted for.

Wood was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster for “numerous raids over enemy territory.”

In a letter to his sister just prior to that mission, Lt. Wood said he had volunteered for that raid.

“I am voluntarily going to do an extremely hazardous undertaking,” Lt. Wood wrote. “Even now I am qualified to be relieved without further fighting, but I don’t think I’ve done enough.”

Remains that could not be identified were buried as Unknowns in the Hero Section of the Civilian and Military Cemetery of Bolovan, Ploiesti, Prahova, Romania. 

Following the war, the American Graves Registration Command, the organization that searched for and recovered fallen American personnel, disinterred all American remains from the Bolovan Cemetery for identification.

The AGRC was unable to identify more than 80 unknowns from Bolovan Cemetery, and those remains were permanently interred at Ardennes American Cemetery and Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, both in Belgium.

In 2017, DPAA began exhuming unknowns believed to be associated with unaccounted-for airmen from Operation TIDAL WAVE losses.

These remains were sent to the DPAA Laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, for examination and identification.

To identify Wood’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis.

Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), Y chromosome DNA (Y-STR), and autosomal DNA (auSTR) analysis.

Wood’s name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Florence American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Impruneta, Italy, along with others still missing from WWII.

A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Wood will be buried on October 23, 2021, in Madill, Oklahoma.

For family and funeral information, contact the Army Casualty Office at (800) 892-2490.

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