Officials say they have identified the remains of an American pilot who was killed during World War II after his daughter pushed for decades for the crash site to be fully excavated.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced Tuesday that U.S. Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Eugene P. Shauvin, 25, of Spokane, Washington, was accounted for earlier this month.
On September 17, 1944, Shauvin was piloting a C-47 Skytrain aircraft that was shot down over Belgium, while flying to the Netherlands to drop 11 paratroopers. Only six paratroopers successfully bailed out. The four-person crew, including Shauvin, and the other five paratroopers were killed when the plane crashed near the village of Retie.
By October 1951, everyone from the plane had been identified and accounted for except for Shauvin, who was declared non-recoverable.
In 1999, officials said Shauvin's daughter, Linda, contacted the U.S. Army with evidence that her father's remains might still be found at the crash site. In 2003, a U.S. recovery team located the cockpit, but didn't find Shauvin, and therefore recommended no further excavation.
In 2016, Linda Shauvin pushed the DPAA to reconsider the decision not to excavate further. After assessing the 2003 reports, officials determined there was sufficient evidence to do additional excavation work at the crash site.
Officials say it took until 2019 to gain access and permits and mitigate environmental challenges at the site, before the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the excavation yet again.
Finally, in 2021, the site was fully excavated.
"Bolstered by unwavering support from Shauvin's family, Belgian authorities, and the landowners and local community at Retie, a DPAA recovery team fully excavated the site in April and May 2021, and found human remains and possible life support equipment," officials said.
Eugene Shauvin was finally identified through DNA and anthropological analysis, officials said Tuesday.
Linda Shauvin, who was just three years old when her father left for the war and never came back, told WVIR-TV last year that she had taken trips to the crash site and made friends in Belgium.
"I've always wondered more about my father," she told the station. "I've been so curious about him all of my life."
Officials said Eugene Shauvin will be buried this July in his hometown of Spokane.