406th FG/513th FS Republic P-47D Ser:44-33185 1st Lt. Mazal body recovered in 2005
Operation: Werl airfield
Date: 19th March 1945 (Monday)
Unit: 406th Fighter Group/513th Fighter Squadron
Type: Republic P-47D
Pilot:1st Lieutenant Paul W. Mazal D.F.C. Air Medal, Purple Heart. Age 22. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
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 afternoon in 1945 .
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.
Danny 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. Aircraft identity numbers (shown clearly left) 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.
Danny explained more regarding the recovery:
“The pilot of this airplane, Paul W. Mazal, he was the fourth recovery we did; what was different with him was that, most of the time when you recover people that were killed in airplane crashes you find bone fragments. Well, Lieutenant Mazal was basically around 85 percent complete.
“When we found him he was still in a sitting position, and we actually had to unbuckle his parachute, unzip his jacket and unbuckle his shirt to look for his dog tag,” Keay said. “So it was more like a body than just fragments. And that was, for all of us, a totally different experience.”
Another difference was that Keay was able establish contact with Mazal’s Family through the recovery operation.
“It was interesting to see and talk to the people that he actually lived with the last day of his life, but also to talk to his Family,” Keay said.
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. 1st Lt. 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.
1st Lieutenant Paul W. Mazal in his cockpit. (courtesy Danny Keay)
Returned home to the United States in 2005. According to the family tradition his remains were cremated and scattered over the Sierra Highs in California.
Researched by Danny Keay and his team submitted to webmaster May 2012
A painting done by artist D.B. Mueller of the pilot – no further details on this. Insert, last photo of Paul taken on leave.