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 Pfc. Leslie E. Shankles, 33, of Arcadia, Kansas, accounted for on July 12, 2018, will be buried October 24 in Fort Scott, Kansas. In October 1944, Shankles was a member of Company C, 1st Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division. He was killed Oct. 14, 1944 by enemy fire in the Raffelsbrand sector of the Hürtgen Forest, near Germeter, Germany.
In 1947, a local German resident discovered remains in the Raffelsbrand section of the Hürtgen Forest. The remains could not be identified, and were buried as Unknown X-5391 in Neuville Cemetery, now Ardennes American Cemetery, in Belgium.
Following thorough research and analysis of American Soldiers missing from Europe, DPAA historians concluded that there was a strong association between Neuville Unknown X-5391 and Shankles. DPAA disinterred X-5391 in June 2017 and accessioned the remains to the DPAA laboratory.
To identify Shankles’ remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used Y-chromosome (Y-STR) DNA analysis, anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial and material 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 72,796 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Shankles’ name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Netherlands American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Margraten, Netherlands, along with the others missing from WWII. Although interred as an Unknown in Neuville American Cemetery, Shankles’ 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.