The US Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency aims to provide the fullest possible accounting for US missing military servicemen to their families and the nation.
The Agency works to identify the remains of personnel reported as missing in action and below you can find details of some of their recent discoveries. As of the end of June 2023, the US Defense Accounting agency successfully identified another 11 US soldiers.
Pilot Accounted For From World War II (Schmidt, P.)
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced that U.S. Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Paul W. Schmidt, 20, of Rockville Center, New York, killed during World War II, was accounted for Sept. 28, 2022.
In March 1945, Schmidt was assigned to 161st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 363rd Tactical Reconnaissance Group, 8th Air Force. His squadron was engaged with attacking German lines of transportation along the Rhine River. On March 23, Schmidt was attacking an enemy train near Sendenhorst, Germany, in his F-6D, a reconnaissance version of the P-51 Mustang fighter. His wingman reported he last saw Schmidt attacking the train, but he was never seen or heard from again. Schmidt was declared missing in action, but the Germans never reported him as a prisoner of war. On March 24, 1946, with no evidence Schmidt survived the fighting, the War Department issued a presumptive finding of death.
In May 1945, an American graves registration team conducted an investigation in the Warendorf area and recovered a set of unidentified remains, later designated X-635 Margraten. There was insufficient evidence to make an identification.
While studying unresolved American losses in the Warendorf area in September 2016, DPAA historians determined X-635 Margraten could be associated with Schmidt. The remains, buried as an Unknown at the Netherlands American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Margraten, Netherlands, were disinterred in June 2018 and sent to the DPAA laboratory for identification.
To identify Schmidt’s remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.
Soldier Accounted For From World War II (Thomas, G.)
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced that Army Pfc. George B. Thomas, 31, of East Providence, Rhode Island, killed during World War II, was accounted for March 20, 2023.
In November 1944, Thomas was assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division. His unit was engaged in battle with German forces near Hürtgen, Germany, in the Hürtgen Forest, when he was reported missing in action on Nov. 24. His body was not recovered during the battle, and the Germans never reported him as a prisoner of war. The War Department issued a finding of death on Nov. 25, 1945.
Following the end of the war, the American Graves Registration Command was tasked with investigating and recovering missing American personnel in Europe. They conducted several investigations in the Hürtgen area between 1946 and 1950 but were unable to identify Thomas’ remains. He was declared nonrecoverable on Feb. 21, 1951.
While studying unresolved American losses in the Hürtgen area, a DPAA historian determined that Thomas could be associated to one of two sets of unidentified comingled remains, designated X-7192 Neuville and X-7193 Neuville, which had been recovered together from a field south of Hürtgen in 1948. The remains, which had been buried in Ardennes American Cemetery in 1950, were disinterred in July 2021 and sent to the DPAA laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, for analysis and identification.
To identify Thomas’ remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.
Pilot Accounted For From Vietnam War (De Soto, E.)
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced that U.S. Air Force Colonel Ernest L. De Soto, 37, of San Francisco, California, reported missing during the Vietnam War, was accounted for March 23, 2023.
On April 12, 1969, Lt. Col. De Soto was the pilot of a F-4D Phantom II assigned to 390th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 336th Tactical Fighter Wing. De Soto, his navigator Captain Hall and another aircraft were returning from a cancelled strike mission near Quang Nam Province, Vietnam when both aircraft ascended into heavy cloud cover. The lead aircraft noticed De Soto’s plane was not in sight and immediately began an aerial search without success. De Soto was promoted to Colonel while in a missing status.
A search and rescue airborne mission were deployed and located De Soto’s crash site, there were no signs of the crew; however due to the hostile activity in the area prevented a ground investigation of the site.
In May 1995, a Joint Field Activity team located the crash site in the Giang District, Quang Nam Province and sent another joint team in July 1996 to recover evidence. A number of DPAA investigation and recovery efforts took place between 1998-2020, with a March 2021 recovery mission conducted by the host nation, finding possible osseous remains and material evidence. The remains were sent to the DPAA laboratory for identification.
To identify De Soto’s remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), Y chromosome DNA (Y-STR) and autosomal DNA (auSTR) analysis.
- Soldiers June 2023: DPAA