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News Release

Press Release | May 30, 2023

Soldier Accounted For From World War II (Gruwell, R.)

WASHINGTON  –  

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that U.S. Army Pvt. Robert R. Gruwell, 20, of Los Angeles, California, killed during World War II, was accounted for Sept. 12, 2022.

In the summer of 1944, Gruwell was assigned to Company G, 3rd Battalion, 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team. On Aug. 15, Gruwell’s unit was part of Operation DRAGOON, the invasion of southern France to secure ports along France’s Mediterranean coast. Specifically, their orders were to prevent German troops from moving to the invasion beaches to fight back against the sea landings and to secure the area around LeMuy. Gruwell’s unit landed near Callian early in the morning, and he went missing sometime that day between Callian and LeMuy. He was never reported as a prisoner of war and no recovered remains were ever identified as him. On May 15, 1945, Gruwell’s status was changed to killed in action.

The American Graves Registration Command (AGRC) was charged with recovering the remains of fallen service members in the European Theater following the war. Between July 1947 and October 1949, AGRC teams conducted several searches in the area where Gruwell went missing, but never found any remains that could be identified as him. He was declared non-recoverable on Aug. 1, 1951.

On Aug. 23, 1944, a team from the 11th U.S. Evacuation Hospital interred a set of remains designated X-23 Draguignan in what is now known as Rhône American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission cemetery in Draguignan, France. X-23 is believed to have died around Aug. 16 and was so badly burnt that he was unable to be identified.

DPAA historians continue to conduct research on those missing from Operation DRAGOON. Their analysis of X-23’s file led them to them to associate those remains as possibly belonging to three Soldiers, one of whom was Gruwell. X-23 was disinterred in February 2020 and sent to the DPAA Laboratory for analysis.

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

Gruwell’s name is recorded on the Wall of the Missing at the Brittany American Cemetery in Montjoie Saint Martin, France, along with others still missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Gruwell will be buried in Riverside, California, on June 8, 2023.

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.