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News Release

Press Release | March 15, 2024

Tanker Accounted for from WWII (Hammond, R.)

Washington  –  

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that U.S. Army Sgt. Richard G. Hammond, 24, of Northwood, New Hampshire, killed during World War II, was accounted for Sep 5, 2023.

In Feb 1943, Hammond was assigned to Company A, 601st Tank Destroyer Battalion, in the North African Theater during World War II as a crew commander of an M3 Gun Motor Carriage “half-track”. His unit was engaged in battle with German forces near Sbeitla, Tunisia, on Feb 17 when his half-track was struck by an enemy high-explosive tank shell. The explosion disabled the half-track and threw Hammond several yards from the wreckage. The area immediately came under heavy fire, forcing the surviving crewmembers to retreat. Witnesses maintain that while egressing from the area, they looked back several times and did not see any movement from Hammond. He was declared missing in action, but the Germans never reported him as a prisoner of war. On June 1, 1949, with no evidence Hammond survived the fighting, he was officially declared non-recoverable.

Following the end of the war, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC) was tasked with investigating and recovering missing American personnel in Africa. On Sept 9, 1943, AGRC personnel recovered a set of remains from an isolated grave near a destroyed half-track in the vicinity of Sbeitla. At the time AGRC personnel could not conclusively identify the remains, designated X-5137 El Alia (X-5137), and they were interred in the U.S. Military Cemetery, Constantine, Algeria.

While studying unresolved American losses in Tunisia, a DPAA historian determined that the M3 half-track information gathered by AGRS in the area potentially belonged to Company A, where Hammond was assigned. This correlation led DPAA and American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) personnel, working closely with the government of Tunisia, to exhume the remains of X-5137 in Sept 2022. They were then sent to the DPAA laboratory for analysis and identification.

To identify Hammond’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.

Hammond’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at North Africa American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Tunis, Tunisia, 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.

Sgt. Hammond will be buried on May 29, 2024, in Northwood, New Hampshire

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, and to the Government of Tunisia for their steadfast support of our recovery 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.

Hammond’s personnel profile can be viewed at https://dpaa-mil.sites.crmforce.mil/dpaaProfile?id=a0Jt000001nzbVBEAY.