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 October 2023, the US Defense Accounting agency successfully identified another 7 US soldiers.

Airman Accounted for from WWII (Sexton, D.)

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced that U.S. Army Air Force Pvt. Doyle W. Sexton, 23, of Salt Lake City, Utah, who was captured and died as a prisoner of war during World War II, was accounted for July 13, 2023.

In late 1942, Sexton was a member of the Headquarters Squadron, 19th Bombardment Group, when Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands in December. Intense fighting continued until the surrender of the Bataan peninsula on April 9, 1942, and of Corregidor Island on May 6, 1942.

Thousands of U.S. and Filipino service members were captured and interned at POW camps.  Sexton was among those reported captured when U.S. forces in Bataan surrendered to the Japanese. They were subjected to the 65-mile Bataan Death March and then held at the Cabanatuan POW camp. More than 2,500 POWs perished in this camp during the war.

According to prison camp and other historical records, Sexton died July 19, 1942, and was buried along with other deceased prisoners in the local Cabanatuan Camp Cemetery in Common Grave 312.

To identify Sexton’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y-chromosome DNA (Y-STR) analysis.

Although interred as an Unknown in MACM, Sexton’s grave was meticulously cared for over the past 70 years by the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC).

Soldier Accounted For From World War II (Gruwell, R.)
USS Oklahoma Sailor Accounted For From World War II (Allen, S.)
Soldier Accounted for from WWII (Gerdes, W.)

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced that U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Woodrow F. Gerdes, 31, of St. Louis, Missouri, killed during World War II, was accounted for July 25, 2023.

In November 1944, Gerdes was assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 110th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division. His battalion had been tasked with advancing on the enemy within the Raffelsbrand, near the town of Germeter, Germany, in the Hürtgen Forest. During intense fighting and heavy artillery fire, Gerdes was reported missing in action on Nov. 9. German forces never reported him as a prisoner of war, nor did U.S. Army officials learn any details of his fate. With no evidence that he survived the fighting, Army officials eventually determined he was killed in action.

While studying unresolved American losses in the Hürtgen area, a DPAA historian determined that one set of unidentified remains, designated X-4507 Neuville, recovered from a foxhole near Raffelsbrand in April 1947, possibly belonged to Gerdes. The remains, which had been buried in Ardennes American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Neuville-en-Condroz, Belgium, in 1949, were disinterred in June 2018 and sent to the DPAA laboratory for identification.

To identify Gerdes’s remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used Y-chromosome DNA (Y-STR), and autosomal DNA (auSTR) analysis.

Pilot Accounted for from WWII (Myers, G.)

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced that U.S. Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Gilbert H. Myers, 27, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, killed during World War II, was accounted for Aug. 10, 2023.

In the summer of 1943, Myers was assigned to the 381st Bombardment Squadron, 310th Bombardment Group, in the Mediterranean Theater. On July 10, while serving as a co-pilot of a B-25 Mitchell, Myers’ aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire while conducting a bombing mission over Sicily. Myers’s remains were not recovered, and he was subsequently declared missing in action.

In 2021 and 2022, DPAA and partner organization personnel from the Cranfield University Recovery and Identification of Conflict Team returned to Sciacca. There they were able to recover additional plane wreckage pieces, as well as human remains from the crash site. These remains were sent to the DPAA Laboratory for examination and identification.

To identify Myers’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), Y-chromosome DNA (Y-STR), and autosomal DNA (auSTR) analysis.

 

Pilot Accounted For From World War II (Litherland, J.)

Image Source:

  • Airman Accounted for from WWII (Sexton, D.): DPAA
  • Soldier Accounted for from WWII (Gerdes, W.): DPAA
  • Pilot Accounted for from WWII (Myers, G.): DPAA
  • October 2023 Identified Soldiers: DPAA
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