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Remains of World War II sailor to be buried at Arlington

FLANDREAU, S.D. — The remains of a South Dakota serviceman whose fighter plane was shot down over the Pacific Ocean during World War II will be laid to rest next month.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency says Navy Reserve Lt. William Punnell of Flandreau will be buried with full military honors May 2 in Arlington National Cemetery.

Punnell’s remains were accounted for last June. Scientists used DNA analysis to help identify his remains.

The 27-year-old Punnell was acting commanding officer of the VF-14 Fighter Squadron on July 25, 1944, when his F6F-3 Hellcat was shot down during a strafing mission against Japanese targets on the islands of the Republic of Palau.

His aircraft sank on impact. Other pilots in the mission did not see Punnell bail out.

Punnell’s Hellcat was located in 2014.

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