Soldier Accounted For From World War II (Hayes, J.)

Release No: 19-059 May 23, 2019
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WASHINGTON — The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that Army Pfc. John W. Hayes, 24, of Estelline, Texas, killed during World War II, was accounted for on April 17, 2019.

(This identification was initially announced on April 18, 2019.)

In early 1945, Hayes was a member of Company M, 3rd Battalion, 335th Infantry Regiment, 84th Infantry Division, serving in the European Theater during World War II. On Jan. 4, 1945, Hayes was killed in action near Mâgôster, Belgium, when, according to witnesses, an 88-millimeter shell from a German tank struck his foxhole. Following the war, American graves registration teams had no record of Hayes’ remains being recovered. On Sept. 6, 1951, the War Department declared his remains non-recoverable.

Following the close of hostilities in Europe in 1945, an unidentified set of remains, designated Unknown X-134 Fosse, were recovered near Soy, Belgium, approximately three miles from Mâgôster. The remains could not be identified and were interred Nov. 4, 1948, at the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial, in Hombourg, Belgium.

Following thorough analysis of military records and American Graves Registration Command documentation by DPAA historians and scientists, Unknown X-134 Fosse, was determined to have a likely association with Hayes. Unknown X-134 Fosse was disinterred in July 2018 and sent to DPAA for analysis.

To identify Hayes’ remains, scientists from DPAA anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence. Additionally, the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.

DPAA is grateful to the American Battle Monuments Commission and to the U.S. Army Regional Mortuary- Europe/Africa 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 72,719 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Hayes’ name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Ardennes American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Belgium, along with others who are missing from WWII. Although interred as an "unknown," Hayes’ 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 family information, call the Army Casualty Office at (800) 892-2490.

Hayes will be buried June 19, 2019, in Memphis, Texas.

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.