US experts in Germany to search for missing WW2 GIs

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by syscom3, Sep 17, 2008.

  1. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    US experts in Germany to search for missing WW2 GIs

    A team of American experts has arrived in Germany to search for the remains of GIs who died fighting the Nazis in World War Two. By Our Foreign Staff
    Last Updated: 8:39AM BST 16 Sep 2008

    78,000 Americans are still officially classified as missing in WW2
    Tens of thousands of American troops fell in the Eifel Mountain region as the forces of Hitler made them fight for every inch of ground.

    Many of them have never been found, their corpses lost on the battlefields.

    The Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command of the US Department of Defence (JPAC) is " now combing the killing fields for the remains of those warriors".

    Unlike Britain, which buries its war dead at the sites where they fell, America's tradition is to bring every soldier it can home to a hero's funeral. In recent years the focus has been on more recent wars, such as Vietnam and Korea.

    But now, with an annual budget close to £30m the decision has been taken to comb Germany for some of the 78,000 Americans still officially classified as missing in WW2.

    The job of Denise To, who heads the team, is to find the remains, ship them to laboratories back home and have them firmly identified before they can be released for burial or cremation to relatives.

    Currently they are trying to find remains of soldiers and airmen in the Huertgen Forest, scene of a devasating clash of arms in 1944 that cost 32,000 American lives.

    Americans and Germans fought at close quarters, often in hand-to-hand combat, as heavy guns tore up the forest around them. The dead were buried where they lay or interred by the high explosive shells of both sides.

    Huertgen is something of a "forgotten" battlefield to Americans. It never achieved the immortality of the breakout from Normandy or the Battle of the Bulge but was deadlier than both.

    Now, in a bid to bring home the remains of the dead, To and her team hope that Huertgen will become more of a household name in the consciousness of Americans.

    Much of their activity occurs after speaking to elderly local residents who remember planes crashing and tanks blowing up. Last week a crash site of a P-38 Lighting fighter which crashed killing its pilot was identified thanks to such local knowledge.

    Deep in the forest walkers find helmets, shrapnel, bullet cartridges and the other detritus of war on a daily basis.

    "We are working with local people and historical groups intently to bring these boys home after so long," said To.

    More than 2,000 are missing in the Huertgen forest. Realistically, the teams searching in the area over the next six months will be lucky to find a dozen bodies.
     
  2. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    :salute: Bring 'em home! :salute:
     
  3. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    Then that will make the whole thing worth it to those families.
     
  4. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
    Staff Member Administrator

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    Amen to that.
     
  5. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    If they find ONE of our boys, its worth it.
     
  6. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    Couldn't agree more!

    Let's bring 'em home! :salute:

    TO
     
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