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.
Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Vincent L. Politte, 19, of Leavenworth, Kansas, accounted for on April 11, will be buried July 30 in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In the summer of 1943, Politte served as a gunner with the 345th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 98th Bombardment Group (Heavy), 9th Air Force. He was killed while participating in a raid on the Ploesti Oil Refinery complex north of Bucharest, Romania, during Operation Tidal Wave. The goal of the operation was to destroy the refineries in the area in order to hamper the German war effort. During the raid, Politte’s B-24 Liberator aircraft was hit by machine gun fire and crashed. Following the war, his remains could not be identified.
Following the end of the war, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC) searched for and disinterred the remains of U.S. servicemen in Europe as part of the global effort to identify and return fallen servicemen. Remains that could not be identified were designated as unknowns and interred in U.S. overseas cemeteries. Beginning in 2010, DPAA and its predecessors digitized and began to analyze more than 8,000 files for Unknowns from WWII.
One set of unidentified remains, designated Unknown X-5056 Neuville, were historically linked to an unaccounted-for American lost during the aerial bombing raids against oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania.
In April 2016, following analysis by DPAA anthropologists of biological DNA for X-5056 Neuville that suggested the remains could most likely be identified, the Unknown was disinterred and transported to the DPAA laboratory.
To identify Politte’s remains, DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA), analysis, dental, anthropological and chest radiograph comparison analysis, and circumstantial evidence.
DPAA is grateful to the American Battle Monuments Commission for their assistance 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 72,906 service members (approximately 26,000 assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Politte’s name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Florence American Cemetery Impruenta, Italy, an American Battle Monuments Commission site, along with the other MIAs from WWII. Although interred as an Unknown in Ardennes American Cemetery, Politte’s grave was meticulously cared for over the past 70 years by the ABMC. 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.