Fallen World War II solider identified 78 years after his death, burial planned in Bluffdale

Sep 30, 2022, 12:45 PM
Sgt. Elvin L. Phillips pictured. He's a World War II soldier, his burial will be in Bluffdale....
Sgt. Elvin L. Phillips is pictured. (Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency)
(Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency)

BLUFFDALE, Utah —  After almost 80 years, the remains of a fallen World War II soldier from Utah are coming home. DNA analysis identified Sgt. Elvin L. Phillips after spending 78 years unidentified.

Phillips will be interred on Oct. 11, at Utah Veteran’s Cemetery and Memorial Park in Bluffdale. Jenkins-Soffe Funeral Homes and Cremation in Murray, Utah will perform graveside services for Phillips before his interment.

Sgt. Elvin L. Phillips’ story

Phillips was a Salt Lake City native. He was just 23 years old at the time of his death.

Phillips served the 66th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 44th Bombardment Group (Heavy), 8th Air Force in the summer of 1943. 

On Aug. 1 of that year, Philips was a gunner on a B-24 Liberator aircraft on a mission north of Bucharest, Romania for Operation Tidal Wave. Enemy fire struck his aircraft, causing him to crash. 

Phillips’ remains were not identified following the war. He was buried as “Unknown” in the Hero Section of the Civilian and Military Cemetery in Romania. 

Identifying Phillips

After the war, the American Graves Registration Command disinterred all unknown American remains from the Romanian cemetery in order to try to identify them.

The command couldn’t identify 80 of those unknown servicemen, so they reinterred them in Ardennes American Cemetery and Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, both in Belgium.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, DPAA, started exhuming soldiers in 2017 who were thought to be associated with unaccounted-for airmen from Operation Tidal Wave.

Using anthropological, mitochondrial DNA, Y chromosome DNA and autosomal DNA analysis, the DPAA identified Phillips on March 23, 2022.

His name was on the Tablets of the Missing at the Florence American Cemetery in Impruneta, Italy. A rosette will be placed by his name to indicate that he was identified.

Related: South Jordan dedicates Gold Star Memorial Monument

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Fallen World War II solider identified 78 years after his death, burial planned in Bluffdale