Real Names: Sylvan J. Lazarus, Carl M. Cobb, and Bernard J. Brady
Case: Lost Sons
Location: Taroudant, North Africa
Date: December 8, 1943
Details: On December 8, 1943, US Air Force Officers Sylvan Lazarus, Carl Cobb, and Bernard Brady, along with eleven others, took off in a B-24 Liberator bomber from the east coast of Africa. It was en route to Casablanca when it crashed in the Atlas Mountains near Taradount. On December 14, the families were told that the men were missing in action. Three weeks later, they were told that the men had all died in the crash and were buried in a mass grave. The Lazarus family never received any of his personal effects, not even his dog tags. Despite this, they tried to cope with his loss. However, on March 17, 1944, the Lazarus family saw a photograph in the Baltimore Mirror of American POWs; they believed that one of the men was Sylvan. What did not make sense to the family, however, was the fact that the Nazis had been driven from North Africa several months earlier.
Sylvan's father sent the photograph to the families of the other airmen aboard the plane. Two of the men in the photo were identified by their families as Carl Cobb of Cynthiana, Kentucky, and Bernard Brady of New York. Mr. Lazarus contacted the government and the Red Cross in an attempt to find answers about the case. Originally, they were told that the remains were buried in a cemetery in Casablanca. However, they were later told that the remains were dug up and buried in a cemetery in Algeria.
The Lazarus family now believes that the B-24 plane was shot down while on a secret mission behind German lines in Europe, not in Africa. They believe that some of the crew men managed to parachute to safety, only to be taken prisoner by the Nazis. It is believed that they were photographed while being interrogated about their mission. The Lazarus family fears that Sylvan was targeted because he was Jewish and was placed in a concentration camp.
Sadly, Sylvan's parents passed away without ever finding out what happened to him. In 1990, Sylvan's brother Arnold and his family obtained a copy of the B-24's crew list from the National Archives. Interestingly, there were check marks next to the names of Lazarus, Cobb, and Brady, along with the numbers "1 2 3". The Lazarus family believes that this is proof that the government knew that the three men survived the crash.
Although no new information has surfaced to suggest the airmen are alive, Arnold Lazarus and his family are still searching for answers.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the January 20, 1995 episode.
Results: Solved. A rescue worker who was at the B-24 plane's crash site called the Unsolved Mysteries telecenter and confirmed that all three men were indeed deceased. He explained that the plane had hit the mountain with such force that no one could have survived the impact of the crash. Arnold realized that the photograph was not of his brother Sylvan and was a case of mistaken identity. Sadly, Arnold has since passed away.
- Kin of airmen want U.S. Army Air Forces to recheck mystery of bomber
- Sylvan Lazarus, Bernard Brady, and Carl Cobb at Find a Grave