It took 74 years, but 24-year-old Army PFC William F. Delaney’s remains have finally been accounted for. The Kingston, Tennessee, native was officially accounted for December 17, 2018, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA).
On Nov. 22, 1944, Delaney’s battalion – Company A, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division – launched a massive firing offensive against a large pocket of German defenders near the town of Grosshau, in the Hürtgen Forest in Germany.
Delaney couldn’t be medically evacuated after an enemy artillery shell struck his foxhole; he died from his injuries. With ongoing combat operations, his remains could not immediately be recovered.
In 1947, a set of remains was recovered from a section of the forest west of Grosshau. Records show a local citizen discovered the remains and concluded they were of an American soldier killed by artillery fire.
After identification efforts were unsuccessful, the remains were declared unidentifiable and were interred at Neuville, now the Ardennes American Cemetery.
Seventy years later, in June 2017, the unidentified remains were exhumed and sent to DPAA for analysis, where scientists used dental, anthropological, circumstantial and material evidence to determine their identity. The Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used its mitochondrial DNA-analysis capabilities to help confirm Delaney’s identity.
The names of those missing from WWII are engraved on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Battle Monuments Commission site in the Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten, Netherlands. The ABMC says a rosette will be placed next to Delaney’s name to indicate he has been accounted for.