GREENEVILLE, TN (WJHL) – Just days after observing Memorial Day – a day remembering those who fought for and served our country – a local serviceman from Greene County will soon be coming home for the first time in 72 years.
On Friday, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced the remains of Army Pfc. Reece Gass, 20, of Greeneville – who fought in and has been unaccounted for since World War II — will be returned to the area after his remains were just recently identified.
According to a news release from DPAA, Gass was a member of Company E, 33rd Armored Regiment, 3rd Armored Division fighting in Belgium during the war.
Gass was reportedly killed in action on Jan. 14, 1945 when his tank was hit by enemy fire.
According to the release, a U.S. War Department investigator with the 4527th Quartermaster Service Company found a possible set of human remains from the remnants of a tank at Mont-le-Ban, near Cherain, Belgium in June of 1947.
The remains were then labeled Unknown X-5867 and were interred at the then U.S. Military Cemetery Neuville, later renamed the Ardennes American Cemetery.
After multiple attempts to identify the soldier, the remains were later reinterred in the then U.S. Military Cemetery Hamm, Luxembourg — now known as the Luxembourg American Cemetery – in March 1952, with a headstone reading, “Here Rests in Honored Glory a Comrade in Arms Known but to God.”
According the release, the DPAA disinterred X-5867’s remains on May 11, 2016 after reviewing potential DNA evidence, and were sent to the DPAA laboratory for identification.
Using mitochondrial DNA from his niece, anthropological analysis and circumstantial evidence, DPAA scientists were able to identify Gass’ remains.
Jason Smith, the funeral director and manager at Doughty-Stevens Funeral Home in Greeneville, Tenn., said Gass’ remains will be arriving at Tri-Cities Airport on Thursday, June 8, and will then lie in state at the funeral home on Friday, June 9 from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
A service to include military honors for Gass will be held on Saturday, June 10 at 2 p.m. at the funeral home, with burial to immediately follow at Cross Anchor Cemetery in Greene County.
Smith said the service and burial is open to the public.
According to the DPAA release, Gass’ name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the ABMC site with other MIAs from WWII, and a rosette will be placed next to his name showing he’s been accounted for.
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