The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Woodrow F. Gerdes, 31, of St. Louis, Missouri, killed during World War II, was accounted for July 25, 2023.
In November 1944, Gerdes was assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 110th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division. His battalion had been tasked with advancing on the enemy within the Raffelsbrand, near the town of Germeter, Germany, in the Hürtgen Forest. During intense fighting and heavy artillery fire, Gerdes was reported missing in action on Nov. 9. German forces never reported him as a prisoner of war, nor did U.S. Army officials learn any details of his fate. With no evidence that he survived the fighting, Army officials eventually determined he was killed in action.
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 account for Gerdes’s remains. He was declared non-recoverable in November 1951.
While studying unresolved American losses in the Hürtgen area, a DPAA historian determined that one set of unidentified remains, designated X-4507 Neuville, recovered from a foxhole near Raffelsbrand in April 1947, possibly belonged to Gerdes. 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 June 2018 and sent to the DPAA laboratory for identification.
To identify Gerdes’s remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used Y-chromosome DNA (Y-STR), and autosomal DNA (auSTR) analysis.
Gerdes’s name is recorded on the Tablets 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.
Gerdes will be buried in St. Louis, Missouri, 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.