Army Sgt. Matuszak, killed in WWII, accounted for

U.S. Army Sgt. Thaddeus S. Matuszak
U.S. Army Sgt. Thaddeus S. Matuszak (on right). Photo credit DPAA

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced recently that U.S. Army Sgt. Thaddeus S. Matuszak, 31, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, killed during World War II, was accounted for Sept. 7, 2022.

In September 1944, Matuszak was assigned to Company K, 11th Infantry Regiment, 5th Infantry Division. They were part of Lt. Gen. George S. Patton’s Third Army and had been fighting across France that summer before being stopped by fierce German opposition at the Moselle River near Dornot.

On the morning of Sept. 8, Matuszak’s unit was part of a larger force ordered to cross the river and take up a position in the woods on the east side. They dug their defensive positions in a curved line at the edge of the forest they called Horseshoe Woods.

The force held their position against a relentless German attack, taking heavy losses, until Sept. 10, when another crossing of the Moselle was made. Only then were they allowed to retreat. That night and into the morning of Sept. 11 most of the Soldiers were able to retreat across the river, though some officers stayed behind to search the woods for the wounded or missing before recrossing the river.

Matuszak was among the Soldiers reported missing that night. His body was unable to be recovered because of the fighting and German presence on east side of the river.

The American Graves Registration Command (AGRC) was charged with recovering the remains of fallen service members in the European Theater following the war. Although some unknown remains were found in and around Horseshoe Woods, none were associated with Matuszak. AGRC continued operations along the banks of the Moselle until 1951. At that point, Matuszak was declared non-recoverable.

DPAA historians and archaeologists are conducting ongoing, comprehensive research on Soldiers missing from combat at Horseshoe Woods. During this research, one Unknown, X-75 Limey, was a candidate to match Matuszak. After extensive research and record comparison by DPAA historians and analysts, X-75 was disinterred in September 2018 and sent to the DPAA Laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, for analysis.

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

Matuszak’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Lorraine American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in St. Avold, France, along with others still missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Matuszak will be buried in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on a date yet to be determined.

Featured Image Photo Credit: DPAA