The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that Army Pvt. Penn Franks, Jr., 20, of San Antonio, killed during World War II, was accounted for on June 24, 2019.
(This identification was initially published July 8, 2019).
In February 1945, Franks was a member of Company G, 371st Infantry Regiment 92nd Infantry Division. His unit was engaged in battle on the Gothic line in the northern Apennine Mountains near Strettoia, Italy, when he was killed in action on Feb. 10, 1945. Following the battle, his unit was unable to recover his remains.
In July and August 1945, during search and recovery operations, American personnel recovered a set of remains, later designated Unknown X-187 Castelfiorentino, from an area east of the town of Strettoia. The remains were examined at the Central Identification Point at Leghorn Port Morgue in November 1948, and declared non-identifiable due to lack of sufficient identifying data. On March 11, 1949, the American Graves Registration Service transferred Unknown X-187 to the United States Military Cemetery Florence, present-day Florence American Cemetery, for burial.
Based upon the original recovery location of X-187, a DPAA historian determined that there was a good possibility the remains could be identified. In June 2016, the Department of Defense and American Battle Monuments Commission disinterred X-187 and accessioned the remains to the DPAA laboratory for identification.
To identify Franks’ 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) and autosomal DNA (auSTR) 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 72,682 service members still unaccounted for from World War II, of which approximately 30,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable. Franks’ name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Florence American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Impruneta, Italy, along with the others missing from WWII. Although interred as an Unknown, Franks’ 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.