The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, killed during World War II, have been identified as those of Army Tech. Sgt. Robert J. Fitzgerrell. Fitzgerrell, 32, born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was accounted for on September 4.
In January 1945, Fitzgerrell was a member of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 311th Infantry Regiment, 78th Infantry Division. On Jan. 30, 1945, while engaged in an attack against enemy forces near Huppenbroich, Germany, Fitzgerrell stepped on an anti-personnel mine and was killed. His remains were not identified by American forces after the battle.
After the war, the American Graves Registration Command traveled to Huppenbroich and extensively searched the Hürtgen Forest, to locate Fitzgerrell’s remains. Unable to make a correlation with any remains found in the area, he was declared non-recoverable on Dec. 15, 1951.
In 2016, a historian from DPAA analyzed documentation of X-6998 Neuville, an unidentified set of remains recovered from a shallow burial near Huppenbroich in 1947. The remains, unable to be identified in 1947, were subsequently interred at Neuville, present-day Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium.
Based upon the original recovery location and evidence from the personal effects associated with X-6998, the DPAA historian determined that there was a possible association between the remains and Fitzgerrell. Following a comparison of the X-6998 skeletal documentation to Fitzgerrell’s physical characteristics, a DPAA anthropologist concurred, and DPAA officials recommended disinterment. In June 2017, the Department of Defense and American Battle Monuments Commission disinterred X-6998 and accessioned the remains to the laboratory for identification
To identify Fitzgerrell’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y-chromosome DNA (Y-STR) analysis, as well as anthropological analysis, and circumstantial and material evidence.
DPAA is grateful the American Battle Monuments Commission for their partnership in this mission.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 72,866 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Fitzgerrell’s name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Hombourg, Belgium, an American Battle Monuments Commission site along with the other MIAs from WWII. Although interred as an Unknown, Fitzgerrell’s grave was meticulously cared for by ABMC for 70 years. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
For family information, contact the Army Service Casualty office at (800) 892-2490.
Fitzgerrell will be buried Sept. 10, 2019, in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing 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) 699-1420/1169.