The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, unaccounted for since World War II, have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Air Forces Capt. Albert L. Schlegel, 25, of Cleveland, Ohio, will be buried March 30 in Beaufort, South Carolina. On Aug. 28, 1944, Schlegel was the pilot and sole occupant of a P-51D Mustang aircraft, departing his base in England on a ground strafing mission to Strasbourg, France, when he radioed that he had been hit by heavy anti-aircraft fire and would need to bail from his aircraft. There was no further communication from Schlegel. Historical records indicated that locals in Valmy, France reported that an unknown American aviator was captured in their village that same evening.
On Nov. 18, 1944, a set of remains was found near a train station in Valmy. The remains were transferred to the temporary American cemetery at Champigueul, and designated as X-73. On Dec. 6, 1948, the American Graves Registration Command declared the remains unidentifiable. He was interred in the Epinal American Cemetery in France under a headstone that read “Here Rests in Honored Glory a Comrade in Arms Known but to God.”
In January 2016, DPAA researchers determined that through advanced forensic technology, the remains might be identified, and X-73 was disinterred and the remains were sent to the DPAA laboratory in Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, for identification.
To identify Schlegel’s remains, scientists from DPAA used laboratory analysis, including dental and anthropological analysis, which matched his records, as well as circumstantial evidence.
DPAA is grateful to the American Battle Monuments Commission for their assistance, support and care of his burial site. Additionally, Schlegel’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at an ABMC site along with nearly 79,000 other MIAs from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name, to indicate he has been accounted for.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 73,074 service members still unaccounted for from World War II.
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.