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 Sgt. James K. Park, 20, of Beaumont, Texas, accounted for on June 20, will be buried October 27 in Barry, Texas. In November 1944, Park was a member of Company I, 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, engaged in fierce fighting within the Hürtgen Forest in Germany. Park was reported missing in action on Nov. 23, 1944, when he was believed to have been wounded by shrapnel. Due to continuous enemy fire, Soldiers from Park’s company were prevented from searching for him. Additionally, no graves registration teams reported finding his remains. Due to no information regarding his whereabouts, his status was amended to deceased as of Nov. 24, 1945.
After the war, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC) collected thousands of unknown sets of remains from battlefields in Germany, and labeled each set with an X-number. None of the remains that were found could be associated with Park by AGRC technicians, and his remains were declared non-recoverable.
In December 1946, AGRC personnel recovered an unidentified set of remains from a civilian cemetery at Langerwehe, Germany, on the northern edge of the Hürtgen Forest. German locals said the remains were originally found by a local resident on Aug. 1, 1946 near the estate of Jüngersdorf in the forest. Following the recovery, the remains were processed at the Central Identification Point at Neuville, Belgium, and buried as an unknown, labeled X-4731 Neuville.
Following thorough research and analysis of American Soldiers missing from ground combat within Germany’s Hürtgen Forest, a DPAA historian concluded that there was a possible association between X-4731 and Park. The remains were disinterred on June 28, 2017 and the remains were sent to the DPAA for analysis.
To identify Park’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) DNA analysis, as well as dental and anthropological analysis.
DPAA is grateful to American Battle Monuments Commission for their partnership with this mission.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 72,790 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Park’s name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Netherlands American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission in Margraten, along with the others missing from WWII. Although interred as an Unknown in Neuville American Cemetery, Park’s grave was meticulously cared for over the past 70 years by the ABMC. 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) 699-1420/1169.