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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 Pvt. Gene J. Appleby, 30, of Columbus, Ohio, will be buried June 22 in Coshocton, Ohio. On Sept. 17, 1944, Appleby was a member of Company A, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, as part of Operation Market Garden to advance from the Netherlands into Germany. The regiment was tasked with landing at Drop Zone “T,” north of Groesbeek, Netherlands. Appleby successfully jumped and was seen on the ground by members of the unit. However, as the soldiers rallied to move toward their objective, Appleby was struck by enemy fire. The Army listed Appleby as missing in action as of Sept 17, 1944. After reviewing his case, the War Department found no further information and issued a presumptive finding of death as of Sept. 18, 1945.
On Sept. 8, 2011, the Royal Netherlands Army Recovery and Identification Unit (RIU) was notified by the Groesbeek Police of possible human remains found at the Groenendaal Farm by local residents. Officials conducted an excavation and recovered possible human remains and material evidence. The remains were transferred to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, (now DPAA,) for identification.
Historians from DPAA working on cases of missing Americans from Operation Market Garden received valuable recovery information from the RIU and traveled to the original recovery site with the local researchers who originally found the remains. With this information, the DPAA historians established a list of individuals whose circumstances of loss and last known location matched the remains. Appleby was among the possible candidates.
To identify Appleby’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) which matched a niece and Y-chromosome (Y-STR) DNA analysis, which matched a cousin; laboratory analysis, including dental and anthropological analysis, which matched Appleby’s records; 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 73,054 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.