World War II soldier from Alabama identified nearly 80 years after his battlefield death

Published 10:16 pm Tuesday, March 19, 2024

A World War II soldier from Alabama who was killed in 1944 has been identified after nearly 80 years, a group that researches unidentified soldier remains said Tuesday.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced that U.S. Army Pfc. Noah C. Reeves, 26, of Moulton, Alabama, killed during World War II, was accounted for Sept. 12, 2022.

In late 1944, Reeves was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division in the European Theater during World War II. His battalion had been engaged with heavily fortified German forces near the town of Vossenack, Germany, in the Hürtgen Forest, when he was reported killed in action on Dec. 6. Shortly after the firefight, both sides held a temporary truce along the Kall River gorge to recover their wounded and dead. A German officer handed over Reeves’ identification tags and pay book, attesting to both his death and recovery by German forces. Members of his unit were not able to recover his body from the Germans before fighting resumed. Pfc. Reeves’ remains were not accounted for following the war.

At the end of the war, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC) was tasked with investigating and recovering missing American personnel in Europe. They conducted several investigations in the Hürtgen area between 1946 and 1950, but were unable to recover or identify Reeves’ remains. He was declared non-recoverable in November 1951.

In 1948, a set of unidentified remains was discovered in the Hürtgen Forest on the heavily wooded slope of the Kall gorge near Mestrenger Mühle by a German resident. AGRC personnel investigated and recovered the remains, ultimately designating them X-5770. Based on the circumstances of the recovery, they believed this individual had died between November and December 1944, but were not able to scientifically identify the remains. X-5770 was interred in 1949 in what would be named the Ardennes American Cemetery.

Based on research by a DPAA historian in 2021, it was determined that X-5770 could possibly belong to Reeves. The remains, which had been buried in Ardennes American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Neupré, Belgium, were disinterred in Aug. 2022 and sent to the DPAA laboratory for identification.

To identify Reeves’s remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y chromosome DNA (Y-STR) analysis.

Reeves’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at Netherlands American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Margraten, Netherlands, along with the others still missing from World War II. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Pfc. Reeves will be buried on a date and location yet to be determined.

For family and funeral information, contact the Army Casualty Office at (800) 892-2490.

DPAA is grateful to the American Battle Monuments Commission and to the U.S. Army Regional Mortuary-Europe/Africa for their partnership in this mission.