The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, unaccounted for since World War II, have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Pvt. John P. Sersha, 20, of Leoneth, Minnesota, will be buried May 28 in Eveleth, Minnesota. On Sept. 27, 1944, Sersha was assigned to Company F, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, as part of Operation Market Garden, and was entrenched on a hill overlooking the German-controlled Kiekberg Woods near Groesbeek, Netherlands. Sersha was one of three “Bazooka Men” who were sent out with a platoon from Company F to assault the German positions. None of the three men returned from the battle and several Company F soldiers stated Sersha had been killed.
On April 12, 1948, American Graves Registration Command personnel recovered two sets of remains from an isolated grave in the Kiekberg Woods. One of the sets of remains was identified and the other was designated as Unknown X-7429 and subsequently buried at the United States Military Cemetery at Neuville-en-Condroz, Belgium.
Sersha’s family proposed disinterment of Unknown X-7429, based largely on two independent dental analyses which concluded dental charts for X-7429 and Sersha were consistent. Under DPAA’s new disinterment process, historians were able to review the case and recommend further scientific analysis. On Dec. 16, 2015, the grave was exhumed and the remains were transferred to DPAA for analysis.
To identify Sersha’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA, Y-chromosome DNA, and autosomal DNA analysis, which matched a nephew and a brother; laboratory analysis, including dental and anthropological analysis, which matched Sersha’s records; and circumstantial evidence.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war.
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 call (703) 699-1420.