KINGSTON, Tenn. — Roughly 75 years ago, U.S. Army soldier Frank Delaney was killed in a foxhole during a fierce artillery battle in Germany during World War II.
His remains were never identified and the 24-year-old from Tennessee was deemed unrecoverable. But now, thanks to a German citizen, investigative persistence and DNA testing, Delaney is no longer a missing man.
Department of Defense officials said Monday that the remains of Army Pfc. William Frank Delaney, of Kingston, Tennessee, have been identified. Two military representatives visited the home of a relative of Delaney's in Russellville, Kentucky, and informed him of the identification, said Frankie Copeland, Delaney's niece.
Officials said the 24-year-old Delaney was fighting with the 4th Infantry Division when his battalion launched an artillery strike against German soldiers near Grosshau in the Hurtgen Forest on Nov. 22, 1944. An artillery shell struck Delaney's foxhole and he was killed.
Delaney was among hundreds of soldiers missing after combat in the Hurtgen Forest. After the war, investigators with the American Graves Registration Command searched for remains in Grosshau.
In 1947, a set of remains that had been discovered by local citizen Siegfried Glassen were sent in for identification in Neuville, Belgium. But attempts to identify the remains were unsuccessful.
Designated "X-5425 Neuville," the remains were buried in Neuville, at what today is Ardennes American Cemetery, according to a news release from the Defense POW-MIA Accounting Agency.
Historians and scientists studied documents and military records and were able to find a likely association between "X-5425 Neuville" and Delaney.
The remains were disinterred in June 2017 and were analyzed using dental evidence and DNA testing. Delaney was officially accounted for in December.
Copeland, who lives in Roane County, Tennessee, told The Associated Press she was named after her uncle, who went by Frank. A funeral has not been set, but Delaney is expected to be buried near Kingston, Copeland said.
Copeland said Delaney's family had been told he had jumped off a tank, onto a land mine.
"All of this new information is quite enlightening to us," Copeland said in a telephone interview. "We're glad the Army pursued information about what actually happened."
Delaney's name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten, Netherlands. Officials say a rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been identified.
Officials say more than 72,000 U.S. service members remain unaccounted for from World War II.