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News Release

Press Release | Sept. 25, 2023

Soldier Accounted for from WWII (Thurston, M.)

WASHINGTON  –  

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Max W. Thurston, 19, of Flint, Michigan, killed during World War II, was accounted for July 7, 2023.

In November 1944, Thurston was assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 109th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division. His regiment was engaged in fierce fighting near the town of Germeter, Germany, in the Hürtgen Forest, when he was reported killed in action on Nov. 6. His body was unable to be recovered due to intense fighting against heavily reinforced German forces. As American forces began to secure the area, many casualties were nonrecoverable due to dense tangled vegetation and heavy snowfall.

Following the end of the war, the American Graves Registration Command was tasked with investigating and recovering missing American personnel in Europe. They conducted several investigations in the Hürtgen area between 1946 and 1950, but were unable to identify Thurston’s remains among hundreds recovered during that period. He was officially declared Killed in Action in November 1944.

While studying unresolved American losses in the Hürtgen area, a DPAA historian determined that one set of unidentified remains, designated X-7476 Neuville, recovered in April 1948, possibly belonged to Thurston. The remains, which had been buried in Ardennes American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Neuville-en-Condroz, Belgium, in 1949, were disinterred in July 2021 and sent to the DPAA laboratory for identification.

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

Thurston’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at Netherlands American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Margraten, Netherlands, along with the others still missing from World War II. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Thurston will be buried in Holly, Michigan on a date to be determined.

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, find us on social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa or https://www.linkedin.com/company/defense-pow-mia-accounting-agency.

Thurston’s personnel profile can be viewed at https://dpaa-mil.sites.crmforce.mil/dpaaProfile?id=a0Jt000001ETh50EAD.