The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced this week that Army Staff Sgt. Raymond C. Blanton, 19, of Richmond, Virginia, killed during World War II, was accounted for April 23, 2020.
In October 1944, Blanton was assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division. His unit was engaged in battle with German forces near Germeter, Germany, in the Hürtgen Forest, when he was killed in action on Oct. 14.
Because of the severity of the German artillery shelling that afternoon, his fellow soldiers were unable to recover his remains before they withdrew.
Following the end of the war, the American Graves Registration Command 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 Blanton’ remains. He was declared non-recoverable in 1951.
While studying unresolved American losses in the Hürtgen area, a DPAA historian determined that one of two sets of unidentified remains, designated X-4491 Neuville and X-4492 Neuville, recovered comingled from Raffelsbrand sector of the Hürtgen Forest near Germeter in 1946, possibly belonged to Blanton. The remains, which had been buried in Ardennes American Cemetery in 1950, were disinterred in September 2017 and sent to the DPAA laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, for identification.
To identify Blanton’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.
Blanton’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at Netherlands American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Margarten, 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.
Blanton will be buried July 1, 2021 in his hometown.