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Indiana Tank Commander’s Remains Identified 79 Years After WWII Battle in Germany

U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Gene F. Walker’s Final Resting Place to be in San Diego, California

In a poignant development, military scientists have successfully identified the remains of U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Gene F. Walker from Richmond, Indiana, nearly 79 years after he lost his life during a World War II battle in Germany.

Indiana Tank Commander's Remains Identified 79 Years After WWII Battle in German
Indiana Tank Commander’s Remains Identified 79 Years After WWII Battle in German

Walker, commanding an M4 Sherman tank in November 1944, faced a fatal blow when his tank was struck by an anti-tank round near Hücheln, Germany. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) revealed on Wednesday that Walker, aged 27 at the time, was believed to have been killed instantaneously as the hit caused a fire. Despite surviving crew members evacuating the tank, heavy fighting prevented them from recovering Walker’s remains.

The War Department issued a presumptive finding of death for Walker in April 1945. However, it was not until July 2023 that DPAA identified his remains. A DPAA historian studying unresolved American losses connected unidentified remains recovered in December 1944 from a burned-out tank in Hücheln to Walker. These remains, exhumed from the Henri-Chapelle U.S. Military Cemetery in Hombourg, Belgium, underwent analysis at the DPAA laboratory, leading to the positive identification.

Walker’s remains will find their final resting place in San Diego, California, in early 2024. Notably, his name is currently recorded on the Walls of the Missing at Netherlands American Cemetery in Margarten, Netherlands, and a rosette will be added to signify that he has been accounted for.

The DPAA, in its ongoing efforts to identify missing soldiers from WWII, has accounted for 1,543 individuals since its inception in 1973. With over 72,000 WWII soldiers still missing, experts like forensic anthropologist Carrie Brown play a crucial role. Using DNA, dental records, sinus records, and chest X-rays, the DPAA lab works tirelessly to bring closure to families and honor the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

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