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DPAA In The News

News 2 | Aug. 17, 2022

Nearly 80 years after his death, WWII soldier’s remains identified, sent home to Kansas

By Wichita Eagle Wichita Eagle

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William Dorsey was just a baby when his uncle, U.S. Army Pvt. Carl G. Dorsey, was declared missing in action in World War II in December 1944.

Now, nearly 80 years later, Carl Dorsey is coming home. He will be buried Sept. 3 in Grenola, Kansas.

Dorsey’s remains were identified in June after they were unearthed in July 2021 from a cemetery in Belgium, according to a news release from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

The agency’s web site says it is tasked with “recovering American military personnel listed as prisoners of war or missing in action from designated past conflicts, from countries around the world.”

Dorsey was 19 and assigned to company I, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, his army personnel record shows. He and his unit saw combat in the Hurtgen Forest near Grosshau, Germany in December 1944, the month he was declared missing in action. He was declared killed in action Dec. 5, 1945, according to the release.

After the war in 1946, unidentified remains were found near Grosshau.

An agency historian studying American losses in the Hurtgen area between 1946 and 1950 indicated that a set of unidentified remains could be from Dorsey, who was declared non-recoverable in December 1950. Those remains had been buried at an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Belgium in 1950, the release said.

The remains were identified by scientists using “dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence,” the release said.

Ian Spurgeon is an agency historian who worked to identify and account for Dorsey’s remains. He, along with a dozen other historians and analysts, have been working on about 20,000 thousand cases of Americans missing in Europe and the Mediterranean.

“Our agency’s role is to identify as many as 200 soldiers worldwide every year. Dorsey was a case that I originally looked into. It took me about four years from when I finished my initial research into the identification,” said Spurgeon, a Kansas native.

“There is always that sense of connection when I see that one of us researchers has been working on data and finally getting to see photographs and realizing that these are cases close to where my family started,” Spurgeon said.

Spurgeon, 45, of Wichita, graduated from Augusta High School and then went on to attend Kansas State University. Spurgeon and his family left Kansas in 1999 and eventually settled in Washington D.C.

“It’s exciting to see that a couple hundred Kansans have been identified and brought back to Kansas. That’s where it really hits home,” Spurgeon said.

William Dorsey said he is proud of his uncle. “It is so good to know what happened. ... That he died in battle and that he sacrificed his life to keep our country free.”

Dorsey grew up a farm boy, said his nephew, who is now 80 and lives in Frisco, Texas.

“As far as I know he helped out on the farm in Moline, Kansas with his dad, James Bennett. My grandpa James was a farmer. He grew watermelons and would take them to various cities where they had auctions and trade and sell goods,” he said.

Dorsey’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Netherlands American Cemetery in Margarten, Netherlands. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for, the release said.

A funeral service will be held for Dorsey at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 3 at the Hillside Funeral Home West, 2929 W. 13th N. in Wichita. A graveside service with full military honors will be held at 2 p.m. at the Greenlawn Cemetery in Grenola, Kansas that same afternoon.