WWII soldier from Georgia identified decades later

ATLANTA — A World War II hero has finally been identified as a soldier from Atlanta.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced Tuesday that the U.S. Army Pfc. Hood E. Cole has finally been accounted for. 

The 26-year-old was assigned to the L Company, 3rd Battalion, 276th Infantry Regiment, 70th Infantry Division in January 1945. He was killed in action on Jan. 14 when his unit was attacked by German forces near Baerenthal, France, according to the DPAA. 

That was the last known record of him for decades.

During the fighting, Cole was killed but records don’t reveal where – and his body could not immediately be recovered or identified.

In 1947, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC) started searching for and recovering American soldiers in the European Theater – the area around Baerenthal. Despite their efforts, they could not find leads on Cole’s remains. He was declared non-recoverable on May 11, 1951.

Credit: DPAA


DPAA historians have continued research into soldiers missing in combat in battles around Baerenthal and discovered an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Nuepré, Beligium, that could be tied to Cole. Two bodies were disinterred in April 2018 and transferred to a laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, for analysis.

Using anthropological and dental analysis, scientists were able to identify one of the bodies as Cole’s remains. Scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y chromosome DNA (Y-STR) analysis to further solidify the identity of the remains.

Recorded on the Walls of the Missing at Epinal American Cemetery in Dinozé, France for soldiers missing from WWII, Cole’s name will now have a rosette next to his name to indicate that, after decades, he has finally been accounted for.

He will be buried on January 15, 2024, in Canton, Georgia with military honors.

   

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