WASHINGTON, WV (WOWK) – A World War II soldier will finally be coming home to the Mountain State 78 years after he was reported missing in action.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced U.S. Army Cpl. Joseph H. Gunnoe, of Charleston, West Virginia has been accounted for. The agency says Gunnoe, who was just 21 at the time he was declared missing, was officially identified on Sept. 14, 2022 and his family has now been notified.
Gunnoe was a Charleston High School graduate who worked for the Kanawha Manufacturing company before joining the army, according to a newspaper clipping provided by the DPAA. The clipping states he was the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. B.A. Gunnoe. Four of his brother also served in the US armed forces, according to the clipping.
According to the DPAA, Gunnoe was assigned to Company G, 112th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Divison in November 1944. The unit captured the German town of Vossenack in the Hürtgen Forest on Nov. 2, 1944 and held the town against German artillery and small arms fire until it was forced to withdraw on Nov. 6, 1944.
The DPAA says Company G was not able to take a full account of the survivors until days later due to the circumstances of the battle. The Company found Gunnoe was among the missing and the survivors had no information as to what happened to him.
Gunnoe was officially reported missing in action on Nov. 9, 1944. Because his body was never recovered or identified after the battle and German troops never reported him as a prisoner of war, Gunnoe was declared as killed in action after the war was over.
The American Graves Registration worked to investigate and recover missing American personnel in Europe following World War II and conducted several investigations in the Hürtgen area between 1946 and 1950, but said they were not able to find Gunnoe. The DPAA says he was declared “non-recoverable” in October 1951.
Historians with the DPAA have continued to research and investigate unidentified remains from the war. In recent years, one of the agency’s historians determined a set of unidentified remains buried in 1949 in the Ardennes American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Neuville-en-Condroz, Belgium, could have been Gunnoe’s. The remains had been recovered near Vossenack in June 1946.
The DPAA says the remains were disinterred from Ardennes in July 2021 and sent to ta DPAA lab at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska to be identified. After anthropological analysis and circumstantial evidence analysis from DPAA scientists and mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome DNA analysis by Armed Forces Medical Examiner System scientists, Gunnoe’s remains were positively identified Sept. 14, 2022.
According the DPAA, Gunnoe’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing along with others who are missing from WWII at the Netherlands American Cemetery, which is an American Battle Monuments Commission site located 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 accounted for.
The DPAA says Gunnoe will be buried in Charleston, West Virginia on Dec. 14, 2022.