Identified World War II soldier from Charleston, West Virginia returning home

WASHINGTON, WV (WOWK) – A World War II soldier will finally return to the Mountain State 78 years after he was reported missing.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced that U.S. Army Cpl. Joseph H. Gunnoe of Charleston, West Virginia was considered. The agency says Gunnoe, who was just 21 at the time he was declared missing, was officially identified on September 14, 2022 and his family have now been notified.

According to a DPAA clipping, Gunnoe was a Charleston High School graduate who worked for Kanawha Manufacturing before joining the Army. The clipping states that he was the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. BA Gunnoe. According to the excerpt, four of his brothers also served in the US armed forces.

According to the DPAA, Gunnoe was assigned to Company G, 112th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division in November 1944. The unit captured the German town of Vossenack in the Hürtgen Forest on November 2, 1944 and held the town against German artillery and small arms fire until it was forced to retreat on November 6, 1944.

The DPAA says that due to the circumstances of the battle, Company G was only able to fully engage the survivors days later. The company determined that Gunnoe was among the missing and the survivors had no information as to what happened to him.

News clip announcing US Army Cpl. Joseph Gunnoe missing (Photo Courtesy: Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency)

Gunnoe was officially reported missing in action on November 9, 1944. As his body was never recovered or identified after the battle and German troops had never reported him as a prisoner of war, Gunnoe was declared killed in action after the war ended.

The American Graves Registration worked to investigate and recover missing American personnel in Europe after World War II and conducted several investigations in the Hürtgen area between 1946 and 1950, but said they could not find Gunnoe. According to the DPAA, it was declared “unrecoverable” in October 1951.

DPAA historians have continued research and study of unidentified remains from the war. In recent years, one of the agency’s historians has noted that a number of unidentified remains buried in 1949 at the Ardennes American Cemetery, a site of the American Battle Monuments Commission in Neuville-en-Condroz, Belgium, may have belonged to Gunnoe . The remains were recovered near Vossenack in June 1946.

According to the DPAA, the remains were exhumed from the Ardennes in July 2021 and sent to a DPAA lab at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska for identification. Following anthropological analysis and circumstantial analysis by DPAA scientists and mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome DNA analysis by Armed Forces Medical Examiner System scientists, Gunnoe’s remains were positively identified on September 14, 2022.

According to the DPAA, Gunnoe’s name is listed on the walls of missing persons along with other missing persons from World War II at the Netherlands American Cemetery, a site of the American Battle Monuments Commission in Margraten, Netherlands. Now that Gunnoe’s remains have been identified, a rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been held accountable.

According to the DPAA, Gunnoe will be buried on December 14, 2022 in Charleston, West Virginia.

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