The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) issued a press release Friday announcing that the remains of an MIA soldier from World War II have been positively identified and returned to his family for burial.
In January 1945, Pfc. James C. Konyud, an Army soldier assigned to the 121 Infantry Regiment, K Company during World War II, joined elements of the 121st Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division on the Germany/Belgium border in battle against German forces in the Hürtgen Forest in what is known to be the longest fought battle in American History.
Konyud's unit was deployed to the southeast area of Aachen for battle when, sometime on January 1, the young Private First Class, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, went missing.
In 2007, a German explosive ordnance disposal team working in an agricultural field between Vossenack and Hürtgen, discovered human remains along with military equipment, and a military identification tag with Konyud's name engraved into it.
The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) teams excavated the site twice in 2007 and again in 2008, where they recovered additional human remains, a second identification tag for Konyud and other military equipment, the DOD press release stated.
The Army Memorial Affairs officials, along with the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory analyzed the remains using mitochondrial DNA, which matched that of Konyud's brother and niece, and 67 years later, Konyud is back home and ready for an honorable burial.
George Konyud, 85, never expected to find out what happened to his older brother after he was declared MIA, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.
"I didn't believe in miracles," George Konyud said, fighting back tears. "I believe in this. Never in a million years did I think this would happen."
George Konyud, whose been confined to a wheelchair since a tragic train accident more than 45 years ago, says nothing, not even his disability, will prevent him from attending his big brother's funeral.
"I'll be there even if I have to go on my hands and knees," George Konyud, a retired assemblyman, told the Cleveland.com.
Army officials met with Konyud's surviving family members to coordinate interment on behalf of the Secretary of the Army, according to a CNN ireport.
James Konyud interred Friday morning at 10 a.m. at Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland with full military honors.
According to the Department of Defense, more than 400,000 of the 16 million Americans who fought during World War II died. At the end of the war, the U.S. government was unable to recover, identify or bury approximately 79,000 as known persons. Today, more than 72,000 Americans remain unaccounted for from World War II.
To learn more on the DOD's initiative to account for missing service members, call 703-699-1420 or visit The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Website at www.dtic.mil/dpmo.