The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that U.S. Army Pfc. Morris E. Swackhammer, 20, of Binghamton, New York, killed during World War II, was accounted for June 28, 2021.
In the latter half of 1944, Swackhammer was assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 143rd Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division. In August, his unit landed on the southern coast of France as part of Operation DRAGOON. After securing the coastal ports, the 36th ID drove north, meeting with the D-Day invasion force before turning towards Germany. On Nov. 22, Swackhammer’s unit engaged in a heavy firefight with enemy troops in a wooded area northwest of Fraize, a village in the Alsace region. He was hit by a spray of bullets from a German machine gun. His squad recovered his body, but had to leave it behind due to the strength of the enemy attack. After Fraize was liberated, Swackhammer’s body could not be found, and it is likely either German troops or residents of Fraize removed it.
The American Graves Registration Command (AGRC) was charged with recovering the remains of fallen service members in the European Theater following the war. Sometime in 1945, U.S. personnel recovered an unidentified body, designated X-756 Epinal, from a cemetery in Fraize. Though the AGRC thought that X-756 could possibly be Swackhammer, they could not confirm because of lack of identifying information in his records. X-756 was interred in the Ardennes American Cemetery in Neupré, Belgium.
Following exhaustive historical research and correlation of various U.S. military and French civilian sources, DPAA officials concluded the remains designated as X-756 were strongly associated with Swackhammer. X-756 was exhumed in July 2019 and transferred to the DPAA Laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, for analysis.
To identify Swackhammer’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.
Swackhammer’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Epinal American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Dinozé, France, along with others still missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
Swackhammer will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. The date has yet to be decided.
For family and funeral information, contact the Army Casualty Office at (800) 892-2490.
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.
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 or find us on social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa or https://www.linkedin.com/company/defense-pow-mia-accounting-agency.
Swackhammer’s personnel profile can be viewed at https://dpaa-mil.sites.crmforce.mil/dpaaProfile?id=a0Jt000001nzXyMEAU.