August 1944 to November 1951

War Department
the Adjutant General's Office
Washington, D.C.

17 August, 1945

Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Milton Buxton
5709 Arnsby Place
Cincinnati, Ohio

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Buxton,

Since your son, Second Lieutenant John M. Buxton, 0705311, Air Corps, was reported missing in action 16 August 1944, the War Department has entertained the hope that he survived and that information would be revealed dispelling the uncertainty surrounding his absence. However, as in many cases, the conditions of warfare deny us such information. The record concerning your son shows that as a crew member of a B-24 type aircraft (Liberator), he took part in a bombing mission from a base in England to Magdeburg, Germany. He was last seen as his plane went down in the target area after having been damaged by flak.

Full consideration has recently been given to all available information bearing on the absence of your son, including all records, reports and circumstances. These have been carefully reviewed and considered in view of the fact that twelve months have now expired without the receipt of evidence to support a continued presumption of survival, the War Department must terminate such absence by a presumptive finding of death. Accordingly, an official finding of death has been recorded under the provisions of Public Law 490, 77th Congress, approved March 7, 1942, as amended.

The finding does not establish an actual or probable date of death, however, as required by law, it includes a presumptive date of death for the termination of pay and allowances, settlement of accounts and payment of death gratuities. In the case of your son, this date has been set as 17 August 1945, the day following the expiration of twelve months' absence.

I regret the necessity for this message but trust that the ending of a long period of uncertainty may give at least some small measure of consolation. I hope you may find sustaining comfort in the thought that the uncertainty with which war has surrounded the absence of your son has enhanced the honor of his services to his country and of his sacrifice.

Sincerely yours,
Edward F. Witsell
Major General
Acting The Adjutant General of the Army

 The Flak 36 is a German artillery piece used during World War II. It was primarily an anti-aircraft gun but it could be adapted to an anti-tank and for general artillery use. It consists of a single 88mm gun on a mount equipped with three systems of fire control: anti-aircraft, direct (line of sight) and indirect fire. The cruciform mount is provided with two hinged outriggers, which would allow it to fire in directions other than front and rear.

The term "flak" has been used by the AAF and USAF from WW II to the present to describe anti-aircraft fire. Its origin is the German phrase for anti-aircraft cannon - FliegerAbwehr-Kanone (Flier Defense Cannon).