WWII solider’s remains recovered from Germany, returning home to Tennessee

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Army Pvt. Warren G.H. DeVault, 24, of Rhea, Tennessee (Photo via DPAA)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Tennessee family finally has closure on what happened to their loved one after nearly 70 years. On Thursday, The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced that Army Pvt. Warren G.H. DeVault, 24, of Rhea, Tenn. was accounted for Sept. 14, 2020.

In November 1944, DeVault’s unit was engaged in battle with German forces near Hürtgen, Germany. On November 20, DeVault was reportedly killed in action. His remains could not be recovered due to ongoing fighting.

At the end of the war, the American Graves Registration Command began investigating and recovering missing American personnel in Europe. From 1946 to 1950, they conducted several investigations in the Hürtgen area but were unable to recover or identify DeVault’s remains. In January of 1952, he was declared non-recoverable.

Years later, while studying unresolved American losses in the Hürtgen area, a DPAA historian determined that one set of unidentified remains possibly belonged to DeVault. The remains designated X-5429 Neuville, were recovered from the Hürtgen Forest in 1947 and buried in Ardennes American Cemetery in 1951.

In April of 2019, they were disinterred and sent to the DPAA laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, for identification. Mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome DNA analysis along with dental and anthropological analysis, circumstantial evidence were used by scientists from both the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System and the DPAA to identify the remains.

DeVault’s name is one of many on the Walls of the Missing at Netherlands American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Margarten, Netherlands. To show that he has been accounted for a rosette will be placed next to his name. He will be buried on Aug. 14, 2021, in Dayton, Tennessee.

For family and funeral information, contact the Army Casualty Office at (800) 892-2490. For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving in the armed forces, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil, facebook.com/dodpaa or linkedin.com/defense-pow-mia-accounting-agency.

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