The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, accounted for from World War II, are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Pfc. Fred W. Ashley, 22, of Emmett, Idaho, accounted for on Aug. 27, 2018, will be buried October 20 in his hometown. In May 1945, Ashley was a member of Troop C, 2nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Group, on a reconnaissance in the town of Paseka, in the former Czechoslovakia. On 4 May, as many as three hundred German soldiers attacked Ashley’s platoon. He was mortally wounded and was last seen being taken away by German troops. Ashley’s unit reported him missing in action as of May 4, 1945. Following the war, when Ashley was not among the American prisoners liberated from German captivity, the War Department amended his status to killed in action. His remains were not recovered following the battle.
In September 1991, Ashley’s sister contacted U.S. Army Mortuary Affairs, regarding the location of her brother’s remains. She reported that shortly after the war, the family received a letter from the U.S. Army stating that local civilians had discovered Ashley’s gravesite. The chief of Mortuary Affairs and Casualty Support Division responded that remains recovered from an isolated grave in Gutwasser, Czechoslovakia were originally believed to be Ashley, however subsequent examination revealed the remains, designated X-239 St. Avold, were not Ashley.
Following thorough research and analysis, DPAA recommended the disinterment of X-239 St. Avold. The remains were exhumed and transferred to DPAA’s laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.
In April 2018, X-239 St. Avold was identified as Flight Officer Richard Lane W. Lane, who had been identified in 1946 and buried with full military honors in Gage County, Nebraska.
On June 14, 2018, the remains that had been previously misidentified as Lane were disinterred from Filley Cemetery in Nebraska and accessioned into the DPAA laboratory at Offutt.
To identify Ashley’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as material and circumstantial evidence.
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. Ashley’s name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Epinal American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Dinoze, France, 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 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.