The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, recently accounted-for from World War II, are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Staff Sgt. Michael Aiello, 35, of Springfield, Illinois, will be buried October 28 in his hometown. In September 1944, Aiello was a member of Company G, 401st Glider Infantry Regiment (GIR), which was attached to the 325th GIR for Operation Market Garden. American and German forces battled in a dense forest in the Netherlands, known as Kiekberg Woods. The battle, which lasted four days, was comprised of ferocious attacks and counterattacks by both sides and resulted in many American losses, including Aiello.
In January 1946, based on information provided by a resident of Plasmolen, Netherlands, members of the Quartermaster Graves Registration Company recovered three sets of remains in the Kiekberg Woods. Two of the sets of remains were individually identified as members of Company G, 401st GIR, but the third set was declared unidentifiable. The remains, designated “X-3367” Neuville, were interred in the United States Military Cemetery Neuville-en-Condroz (known today as Ardennes American Cemetery), Belgium, in April 1950.
Current historical research shows there are still 21 unaccounted-for U.S. servicemen who were lost within five miles of Kiekberg Woods. The American Graves Services have recovered the remains of 52 servicemen from the area, 46 of whom were members of either the 325th or 401st GIRs.
On May 31, 2016, “Unknown X-3367” was disinterred from the Ardennes American Cemetery and the remains were sent to the DPAA laboratory for identification.
To identify Aiello’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used Y-chromosome (Y-STR) DNA analysis, which matched his family; laboratory analysis, including dental and anthropological analysis, which matched Aiello’s records; and circumstantial evidence.
DPAA is grateful to the American Battle Monuments Commission for their partnership in this recovery.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 72,980 service members (approximately 34,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Aiello’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at an American Battle Monuments Commission site along with the other MIAs from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil, find us on social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa or call (703) 699-1420.