US Army Air Force hero returns home after 78 years

Monday, May 17, 2021

All photos by Douglas Cerretti

The family of U.S. Army Air Forces Tech. Sgt. Alfred F. Turgeon, whose fate was unknown for 78 years, now knows when and where he died. He was accounted for January 13, 2021 after the Army used DNA analysis from remains buried in Europe.

His family moved to Alaska after he enlisted at age 21 to fight for the Allies in World War II.

On Friday, May 14, 2021, Tech. Sgt. Turgeon's remains were received with honors at Evergreen Washelli Cemetery in Seattle, WA for burial next to his sister, Lorraine Bass.

The official procession was led by the American Legion Department of Washington Patriot Guard.

A van with 3’x5’ American Flags and two Guard members arrived at the Evergreen site and dispensed flags to those assembled. Members of American Legion Post 227 were participants in the ceremonies.

A full funeral service was held

Edmonds artist Michael Regan
presented a portrait of Alfred to 
his nephew, David Bass.
In the summer of 1943, Turgeon was a radio operator/waist gunner assigned to the 344th Bombardment Squadron, 98th Bombardment Group (Heavy), 9th Air Force in North Africa.

On Aug. 1, 1943, the B-24 Liberator aircraft on which Turgeon was serving as a waist gunner and radio operator crashed as a result of enemy anti-aircraft fire during Operation TIDAL WAVE, which was the largest bombing mission against Nazi oil fields and refineries at Ploiesti, north of Bucharest, Romania.

Of the 10-man crew, only the captain survived, taken as a prisoner of war.

More than 300 airmen were believed to have died in the operation and another 100 were captured, according to the National World War II Museum. 

Only 33 of 178 B-24s survived the mission.

His remains were not identified following the war. 

The remains that could not be identified were buried as Unknowns in the Hero Section of the Civilian and Military Cemetery of Bolovan, Ploiești, Prahova, Romania, then later moved to Belgium.

Alfred F. Turgeon
Enlistment photo
1919 - 1943
According to an article in the Anchorage Daily News by Tess Williams, Turgeon's nephew, David Bass, had volunteered a sample of his DNA several years ago to the POW/MIA Accounting Agency. 

The agency began exhuming remains in 2017 at a Belgian cemetery where 80 American soldiers were believed to have been buried. 

The remains of Turgeon and others were sent to Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska for identification. 

Scientists used the DNA provided by Bass, his cousin and his aunt Joan Cutler, Turgeon’s sister, to make the identification.

And Friday, he came home.


Anonymous,  May 17, 2021 at 6:14 AM  

Welcome home brave soldier and thank you for your service.

Trooper Meyer May 17, 2021 at 6:16 PM  

Welcome back home and thank you for your services. May you rest in peace.

Anonymous,  July 17, 2023 at 4:37 AM  

Our Gold Star Family is forever grateful to the Officers and Members of American Legion Post # 227 for your honor of “Uncle Freddy” and support of our family. Also to article author Doug Cerretti and Diane Hettrick Publisher of Shoreline News for their friendship and support. Regards, David Bass

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