The Recovery of 1LT Paul W. Mazal
406th FG, 513th FS
Killed in Action March 19, 1945
Recovered August 27, 2005
It is estimated that more than 3000 US airmen, and perhaps 2500 German flyers are missing in action from World War II. The United States still encourages and sponsors recovery efforts to find those who have gone missing for well over 60 years.
One such archeology recovery team, lead by Danny Keay, is responsible for locating and recovering the remains of 406th pilot Paul Mazal…still with his P-47 Thunderbolt... buried in the German countryside over the summer of 2005. A member of the US Army, Keay volunteers his time along with other Americans and Europeans to investigate possible crash sites, excavate that location and in many instances bring closure to a Missing In Action case.
Mazal had taken off from Y-29 (Asch, Belgium) along with fellow 513th FG pilot 2LT Robert Armstrong heading for the targeted German airfield near Werl. During the attack he was hit by flak and the plane started smoking badly. As he climbed to about 2500 feet the Thunderbolt was seen to be nearly fully ablaze where upon it rolled over and headed straight downward. Nothing has been heard or seen since that March, 1945 afternoon.
Keay and the recovery team arrived at the scouted out, potential crash site during the early morning of August 27, 2005. Within an hour they had unearthed parts of the P-47 by carefully using a tractor with a shovel. By early afternoon they had dug fifteen feet into the soil and came upon the remains of pilot Paul Mazal. Plane ID numbers and a dog tag confirmed this archeological find making it official.
The operation was professionally conducted to befit the scene of a crash, concluding with a prayer at the dig site. Mazal's remains were placed in a casket and transported by hearse to a local funeral home. A ceremony was attended by local townspeople and flowers placed at the crash location. 1LT Paul W. Mazal was eventually returned to his next of kin in the United States.
Danny Keay has been invited and plans to attend the April 2007 406th Reunion in Tucson as a special guest speaker. This 406th Website will be updated with addition information from Danny's presentation.
On behalf of all the members of the 406th Fighter Group WWII Memorial Association, thank you Danny Keay and all the recovery team members. A job well done!