Pilot Accounted For From World War II (Mattes, H.)

Release No: 19-132 Sept. 19, 2019
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WASHINGTON — The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today Army 1st Lt. Herschel H. Mattes, 22, of Pittsburgh, was accounted for July 29, 2019.

(This identification was initially published July 31, 2019.)

In early 1944, Mattes was a pilot, assigned to the 525th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, 86th Fighter-Bomber Group. On March 6, 1944, while on an armed reconnaissance mission, his A-36A, Apache aircraft crashed approximately 2.5 miles from Lake Bracciano, Italy. Prior to the crash, his aircraft was struck by small arms or machine gun fire. His remains could not be recovered immediately following the crash.

In 1947, the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) recovered remains from a grave found on the grounds of an estate about 2.5 miles from Lake Bracciano. The remains, designated X-977 Nettuno, could not be identified and were interred at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery.

Based upon the original recovery location of X-977, a DPAA historian determined that there was a likely association between the remains and Mattes. On Aug. 4, 2015, the Department of Defense and American Battle Monuments Commission disinterred X-977 and accessioned the remains to the DPAA laboratory for identification.

To identify Mattes’ remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence. Additionally, scientists from 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. DPAA is also appreciative for the assistance of Dr. Vincenzo Lucherini, an independent researcher, and Princess Camilla Borghese Khevenhüller, the owner of the villa where X-977 was originally found.

Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 72,661 service members still unaccounted for from World War II, of which approximately 30,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable. Mattes’ name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Florence American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Impruneta, Italy, along with the others missing from WWII. Although interred as an Unknown, Mattes’ grave was meticulously cared for by ABMC for 70 years. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

For family information, contact the Army Service Casualty office at (800) 892-2490.

Mattes will be buried Sept. 23, 2019, in Avon, Connecticut.

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.

Mattes’ personnel profile can be viewed at https://dpaa.secure.force.com/dpaaProfile?id=a0Jt0000000XeT6EAK