The Department of Defense
POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today
that the remains of two servicemen, missing in
action from World War II, have been identified and
are being returned to their families for burial with
full military honors.
Lawrence N. Harris, of Elkins, W.V., will be buried
on Oct. 8 in Clarksburg, W.V, and Army Cpl. Judge C.
Hellums, of Paris, Miss., will be buried on Oct. 9
in Randolph, Miss. In late September 1944, their
unit, the 773rd Tank Battalion, was
clearing German forces out of the Parroy Forest near
Lunéville. On Oct. 9, 1944, in the final battle for
control of the region, Hellums, Harris and three
other soldiers were attacked by enemy fire in their
M-10 Tank Destroyer. Harris and Hellums were
reported to have been killed, and evidence at the
time indicated the remains of the men had been
destroyed in the attack and were neither recovered
nor buried near the location.
In November 1946, a French
soldier working in the Parroy Forest found debris
associated with an M-10 vehicle and human remains,
which were turned over to the American Graves
Registration Command (AGRC). The remains were
buried as unknowns in the Ardennes American Cemetery
in Belgium. A year later, the AGRC returned to the
Parroy Forest to conduct interviews and search for
additional remains. Investigators noted at that
time that all remains of U.S. soldiers had
reportedly been removed and that the soldiers were
likely buried elsewhere as unknowns.
In 2003, a French citizen
exploring the Parroy Forest discovered human remains
and an identification bracelet engraved with Hellums’
name. The information was eventually sent to the
Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC). In April
2006, the man turned over the items to a JPAC team
working in Europe.
Historians at DPMO and JPAC
continued their research on the burials at the
Ardennes Cemetery, and drew a correlation to those
unknowns that had been removed from the 1944 battle
site. In early 2008, JPAC disinterred these remains
and began their forensic review.
Among other forensic
identification tools and circumstantial evidence,
scientists from JPAC used dental comparisons for
both men and the Armed Forces DNA Identification
Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA, which matched
that of each soldier’s relatives in the
identification of their remains.
At the end of the war, the U.S.
government was unable to recover, identify and bury
approximately 79,000 Americans. Today, more than
72,000 remain unaccounted-for from the conflict.