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Missing WWII soldier’s remains identified, will be brought to Washington and buried next to his brother

Airman 1st Class Brittany White, of the Eglin Honor Guard, holds her bugle prior to a military funeral performance at the honor guard graduation at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)

Seventy-five years, one month and five days after he was reported missing in action, Army Pfc. Donald E. Mangan will be laid to rest at a public funeral in Gig Harbor on Oct. 22.

Mangan, 26, was killed in World War II when his unit — Company C, 1st Batallion, 112th Infantry Regiment, 28th infantry Division — was attacked near Wettlingen, Germany.

His remains couldn’t be recovered at the time, and he was reported MIA on Sept. 17, 1944. In July of this year, he was finally accounted for.

An Army unit known as the American Graves Registration Command, U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps, investigates and recovers missing American soldiers and has collected thousands of remains from across northern Europe. The unit found a mass grave of 112th Infantry soldiers near Wettlingen and looked at ID tags or personal effects to identify most of them. But two couldn’t be identified, so they were given the names X-70 Hamm and X-71 Hamm and buried in the Luxembourg American Cemetery as “Unknowns.”

In 2017, a historian was studying American losses around Wettlingen, reviewed X-70 Hamm’s documents, and determined Mangan was among five unresolved American casualties who were known to have been lost in combat near Wettlingen.

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The U.S. Department of Defense’s POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) disinterred X-70 Hamm in April of this year. Scientists from the agency used dental, anthropological analysis and chest radiograph comparison analysis to identify him as Mangan.

Mangan is one of more than 400,000 Americans who died in WWII. At least 72,652 are still unaccounted for from that war, about 30,000 of whom could possibly be recovered, according to the DPAA.

Although he was interred as Unknown, Mangan’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the cemetery in Luxembourg, according to the DPAA. A rosette will be placed next to his name to show that he has been accounted for.

Mangan was from Elkton, South Dakota, but he will be buried at Gig Harbor next to his older brother, according to the Haven of Rest funeral home and cemetery.

Interment and military services will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22, at Haven of Rest Memorial Park, 8503 State Route 16 NW in Gig Harbor. The service will be open to the public.

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© 2019 The Seattle Times