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Georgia soldier finally found and buried after vanishing during World War II

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) has announced that U.S. Army Private First Class Hood E. Cole, a native of metro Atlanta, who lost his life during World War II, was officially accounted for as of Feb. 22.

Pfc. Cole, aged 26, was part of L Company, 3rd Battalion, 276th Infantry Regiment, 70th Infantry Division when tragedy struck in January 1945. On Jan. 14, during a fierce encounter with German forces near Baerenthal, France, Cole was killed in action. Unfortunately, the exact location of his death remained elusive in historical records, and the chaos of the battle prevented the immediate recovery of his body.

Following the end of World War II, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC), responsible for locating and recovering fallen American personnel in the European Theater, conducted extensive searches around Baerenthal. Despite their efforts, no information regarding the whereabouts of Cole's remains emerged, leading to his official declaration as non-recoverable on May 11, 1951.

DPAA historians, engaged in ongoing research on soldiers missing from combat in the Baerenthal region, recently identified potential leads. X-9441 and X-9442, initially buried in Frankfurt Mausoleum and later moved to Ardennes American Cemetery in Neupré, Belgium, were believed to be associated with Cole. These remains were disinterred in April 2018 and meticulously analyzed at the DPAA Laboratory in Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.

To confirm Cole's identity, DPAA scientists employed anthropological and dental analysis. Furthermore, the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System utilized advanced techniques such as mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y chromosome DNA (Y-STR) analysis.

Cole's name currently adorns the Walls of the Missing at Epinal American Cemetery in Dinozé, France, alongside others still unaccounted for from WWII. In a poignant recognition of closure, a rosette will soon be placed next to his name, signifying that he has been officially accounted for.

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