The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that Army Pvt. Harry W. Wilder, 21, of Denver, killed during World War II, was accounted for on Nov. 26, 2018.
(This identification was initially published on Nov. 28, 2018.)
In November 1944, Wilder was a member of Company B, 1st Battalion, 110th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action on Nov. 14, 1944, after fierce combat in the Raffelsbrand sector of the Hürtgen Forest, near the village of Simonskall, in Germany. Due to ongoing combat operations and extensive land mines throughout the forest American forces were unable to search for him. When the war ended, Wilder was among more than two dozen Soldiers still missing in the Raffelsbrand sector. On Nov. 15, 1945, the War Department declared him deceased.
After the war, the American Graves Registration Command extensively searched the Hürtgen Forest for Wilder’s remains. Unable to make a correlation with any remains found in the area, he was declared non-recoverable.
In April 1947, following demining operations, a set of unidentified remains was recovered from the Raffelsbrand sector of the Hürtgen Forest. The remains were sent to the central processing point at Neuville, Belgium. They were unable to be identified, were designated X-5392, and buried as an unknown Soldier at Neuville American Cemetery.
Based upon the original recovery location of X-5392, a DPAA historian determined that there was a likely association between the remains and Wilder. In April 2018, the Department of Defense and American Battle Monuments Commission disinterred X-5392 and accessioned the remains to the DPAA laboratory for identification.
To identify Wilder’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.
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.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 72,708 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Wilder’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Netherlands American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Margraten, Netherlands, along with the others missing from WWII. Although interred as an Unknown, Wilder’s grave was meticulously cared for by ABMC for 70 years. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
For future funeral information, visit https://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/PressReleaseArticleView/Article/1869261/soldier-accounted-for-from-world-war-ii-wilder-h/