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.
Navy Reserve Radioman 2nd Class Julius H.O. Pieper, 19, of Esmond, South Dakota, accounted for on Nov. 15, 2017, will be buried June 19 at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. On June 19, 1944, Pieper was a member of Landing Ship Tank Number 523 (LST-523), off the coast of Normandy, France. The ship exploded and sank after striking an underwater mine, killing Pieper. In the years following the incident, his remains were not recovered or identified. Pieper’s twin brother, Radioman 2nd Class Ludwig J. Pieper, was also killed in the attack, but his remains were recovered after the incident and buried at the Normandy American Cemetery in France. Julius will be buried next to his brother.
Recently discovered records show that in September 1961, French salvage divers dismantled the LST-523 and turned over potential remains discovered to U.S. authorities. The remains, designated as Unknown X-9352, were found in the Radio Room of LST-523.
The remains could not be identified and were interred in Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium as an Unknown.
After a thorough historical and scientific analysis, it was determined that X-9352 could likely be identified. After receiving approval, on April 11, 2017, Unknown X-9352 was disinterred from Ardennes American Cemetery and sent to DPAA.
To identify Pieper’s remains, DPAA used laboratory analysis, including dental, anthropological and chest radiograph comparison analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence.
DPAA is grateful to the French salvage divers and the American Battle Monuments Commission for their partnership in this recovery.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 72,917 service members (approximately 26,000 assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Pieper’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Normandy American Cemetery in France, an American Battle Monuments Commission site. Although interred as an "Unknown" in Ardennes American Cemetery, Pieper’s grave was meticulously cared for over the past 70 years by the American Battle Monuments Commission. 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.