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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 Staff Sgt. Gerald L. Jacobsen, 27, of Little Canada, Minnesota, will be buried July 14 in Fort Snelling, Minnesota. On July 15, 1944, Jacobsen was a member of the 134th Infantry Regiment, 35th Infantry Division, which participated in the siege of Saint-Lô, France. Jacobsen, who was acting as an artillery spotter, was manning a mortar command post near La Forge, approximately two kilometers northeast of Saint-Lô, when he and another service member went missing. The other service member’s body was later found near the command post but Jacobsen’s remains were not recovered and he was reported missing in action. The U.S. Army subsequently declared him deceased as of July 16, 1945.
On July 22, 1944, the remains of an individual, believed to be a member of the 134th Infantry Regiment, 35th Infantry Division, were recovered from the battlefields around Saint-Lô, and were interred at the La Cambe temporary cemetery in France. The remains were initially identified based on personal letters found with the body. However, further investigation showed that the individual whose letters had been found was not a casualty. Based on this information, the remains were re-examined, designated as “Unknown X-481” and reinterred. Following additional unsuccessful attempts at identification, Unknown X-481 was interred at U.S. Military Cemetery St. Laurent, now known as Normandy American Cemetery.
In July 2016, Jacobsen’s family requested X-481 be disinterred based on the presence of a laundry mark found on clothing recovered with the remains. Researchers from DPAA worked closely with the historian of the 35th Infantry Division to marshal evidence to support a recommendation to disinter X-481. Scientific analysis of data on file also found sufficient evidence to support a recommendation to disinter. After receipt of approval, the remains were disinterred from the Normandy American Ceremony on Nov. 21, 2016 and sent to the DPAA laboratory for analysis.
To identify Jacobsen’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) analysis, which matched a brother and a sister, as well as dental and anthropological analysis, and historical evidence.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 73,051 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Jacobsen’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at an American Battle Monuments Commission site along with the others who are missing 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 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.