The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, recently accounted-for from World War II, are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Pfc. Lonnie B.C. Eichelberger, 20, of Waco, Texas, will be buried January 10 in Houston. In February 1942, Eichelberger was a member of Company I, 371st Infantry Regiment, 92nd Infantry Division. In an era of racial segregation, the 92nd ID was the only African-American division to fight in Europe. The division fought at the westernmost portion of the Allied line in northern Italy from November 1944 until April 1945. As part of Operation Fourth Term, Eichelberger’s regiment fought in the hills near the town of Strettoia, Italy. His regiment suffered heavy losses while attacking German defenses. Following the battle, Eichelberger could not be accounted for and was declared missing in action.
In July and August 1945, during search and recovery operations, American personnel recovered a set of remains, later designated as X-193, in the vicinity of Strettoia, Italy. Attempts to identify the remains were unsuccessful and they were buried as “Unknown” at the United States temporary military cemetery at Castelfiorentino.
On Sept. 14, 1948, Unknown X-193 was disinterred and transferred to the Leghorn Port Morgue, where the remains were declared unidentifiable and reinterred in Florence American Cemetery in April 1949.
Based on analysis of information associating X-193 with two individuals still unaccounted for from the 92nd ID, the remains were disinterred from the Florence American Cemetery on June 29, 2016.
To identify Eichelberger’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis, which matched his records, as well as circumstantial evidence.
DPAA is grateful to the American Battle Monuments Commission for their partnership in this mission.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 72,964 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Eichelberger’s name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Sicily-Rome American Ceremony, an American Battle Monuments Commission site 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 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.