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Remains of Pennsylvania soldier lost in France during World War II are identified after 77 years

U.S. Army Pfc. Francis P. Martin, 25, was killed near Reipertsweiller, France, in January 1945, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said Monday.
Credit: Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency
U.S. Army Pfc. Francis P. Martin

SCRANTON, Pa. — The remains of a Pennsylvania soldier lost in France during the final year of World War II were positively identified in June, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced Monday.

U.S. Army Pfc. Francis P. Martin, 25, of Scranton, was killed near Reipertswiller, France in January 1945, the DPAA said.

His death was accounted for on June 21, 2022, according to the DPAA.

"In January 1945, Martin was assigned to Company D, 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division," the DPAA said in a press release. "The unit had penetrated the German lines near Reipertswiller, France, which left its flanks open to German forces. 

"On Jan. 16, Martin was on a truck convoy bringing rations to the front lines. The convoy was ambushed, and Martin was not among the men who escaped. 

"Over the next few days, the Germans surrounded the 157th forces, preventing any search for Martin or the recovery of his body. With no evidence in captured German records that he survived the ambush or was held as a prisoner of war, the War Department issued a finding of death on Jan. 17, 1946."

In 1947, the American Graves Registration Command, an organization that searched for and recovered fallen American personnel in the European Theater of the war, searched the area around Reipertswiller, finding 37 unidentified sets of American remains, the DPAA said. 

But the organization was unable to identify any of them as Martin, who was declared non-recoverable on Oct. 15, 1951. 

DPAA historians have been conducting on-going research into Soldiers missing from combat around Reipertswiller, and found that Unknown X-6373 Neuville, buried at Henri-Chappelle American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site near Liège, Belgium, could be associated with Martin, the organization said.

X-6373 was disinterred in August 2021 and transferred to the DPAA Laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, for analysis. 

To identify Martin’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used Y chromosome DNA (Y-STR) and autosomal DNA (auSTR) analysis. 

Martin’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at Epinal American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Dinozé, France, along with others still missing from WWII. 

A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for, according to the DPAA.

Martin will be buried on a date yet to be determined, in Arlington National Cemetery. 

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