CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — A Sergeant with the U.S. Army Air Forces from central Pennsylvania has been accounted for nearly 80 years after his plane went down in England.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced that U.S. Army Air Forces Tech. Sgt. John Holoka Jr., 25, of Cresson, who was killed during World War II, was accounted for Jan. 24.

In the summer of 1944, Holoka was assigned to the 844th Bombardment Squadron, 489th Bombardment Group (Heavy), Eighth Air Force. On June 22, Holoka was an engineer on a B-24H Liberator that was struck by anti-aircraft after a bombing raid on a German airfield in Saint-Cyr-l’École, near Versailles, France.

Despite the damage to the B-24, the pilot — William B. Montgomery, 24, of Ford City — was able to nurse the aircraft until it was over the English coast, whereupon he ordered his crew to bail out. Seven of the airmen parachuted successfully while the other three crew members, including Holoka, were still on board. Two of the crew witnessed the aircraft crash into a farm in West Sussex, England.

In November 1947, AGRC investigators searched the area of the crash site, but they did not discover the remains of any other crewmembers. Holoka was declared non-recoverable May 10, 1950.

A local aviation archaeology group attempted to excavate the crash site in 1974, to search for aircraft parts. A number of U.S. Department of Defense investigation and recovery efforts took place in 2017 and 2019, with a June 2021 recovery mission finding possible human remains and material evidence.

To identify Holoka’s remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis as well as material evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used dental, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y chromosome (Y-STR) analysis.

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Holoka’s name is recorded on the Wall of the Missing at Cambridge American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Cambridge, United Kingdom, along with others still missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Holoka will be buried in Portage on May 1, the agency said.

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