Killed in WWII, Army Sgt. Wassil has been accounted for

Killed in WWII, Army Sgt. Wassil has been accounted for
U.S. Army Sgt. Larry S. Wassil. Photo credit DPAA

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that Army Sgt. Larry S. Wassil, 33, of Bloomfield, New Jersey, killed during World War II, was accounted for July 27, 2021.

In late 1944, Wassil was assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division. His unit was part of the Hürtgen Forest offensive, near Hürtgen, Germany, when he was reported missing in action on Dec. 28. He was leading a three-man reconnaissance team scouting enemy positions near Bergstein when they started taking enemy machine gun fire, forcing them to scatter.

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When the gunfire stopped, the other two men found each other, but were unable to find Wassil. German forces never listed him as a prisoner of war. The War Department issued a presumptive finding of death on Dec. 29, 1945.

Following the end of the war, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC) 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 Wassil’s remains. He was declared non-recoverable in December 1951.

While studying unresolved American losses in the Hürtgen area, a DPAA historian determined that one set of unidentified remains, designated X-9118 Griesheim Mausoleum, originally discovered by German wood cutters near Bergstein and recovered by the AGRC in 1952, possibly belonged to Wassil. The remains, which had been buried in Ardennes American Cemetery, were disinterred in April 2019 and sent to the DPAA laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, for examination and identification.

To identify Wassil’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), Y chromosome DNA (Y-STR), and autosomal DNA (auSTR) analysis.

Wassil’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at Netherlands American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Margraten, 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.

Wassil will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. The date has yet to be determined.