NEW YORK (PIX11) — After all these decades, a mystery has been solved. And it’s all because of a dedicated researcher and a chance find in an archive in Thailand.

Going back to World War II, there are 47,000 U.S. military personnel who are considered Missing In Action in Asian war zones. Now, researchers believe they’ve found the remains of an Army pilot who disappeared over Thailand in 1944. The remains will be analyzed to confirm identification. Earlier in May, a ceremony was held at the U.S. airbase in Thailand to pay respects and send the remains home. 

The investigation that led to the discovery was led by retired Thai airforce officer Sikpinit Promthep. He does some work at The Royal Thai Air Force museum in Bangkok.

Promthep had heard rumors of a World War II plane crash but couldn’t find records of it. Then in 2011, flooding threatened the museum archives, so he went through the records to check their condition. 

File by file and page by page, then Promthep came across a police report from 1944. The report cited the precise date and location where a Reconnaissance P-38 went down after being struck by lightning. 

It took 10 years to start sifting through the field, and in April they found remains. The U.S. military has a special facility in Hawaii where they will analyze the remains to confirm their identity.