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World War II soldier from Indiana accounted for, returning home for burial

Leonard Adams.jpg
Posted at 10:44 AM, May 30, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-30 10:44:21-04

INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana soldier who was declared dead following World War II has been accounted for.

Leonard Adams of Dana, Indiana in Vermillion County was 25 years old when he was killed during World War II.

According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), in January 1945, Adams was assigned to Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division. Elements of the unit were supporting five companies attempting to secure terrain near Reipertswiller, France, when they were surrounded by German forces while being pounded by artillery and mortar fire.

The surrounded companies were given the order to attempt a break-out on Jan. 20, but only two men made it through German lines. The rest were either captured or killed.

Adams was among those killed, but his body could not be recovered because of the fighting.

Beginning in 1946, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC), the organization that searched for and recovered fallen American personnel in the European Theater, searched the area around Reipertswiller, finding 37 unidentified sets of American remains, but it was unable to identify any of them as Adams. He was declared non-recoverable on May 4, 1951.

In July 2021, work was done by DPAA historians and scientists to determine Adams as one of the unknown bodies recovered and buried in Belgium at the American Battle Commission site.

To identify Adams’ remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.

Adams’ name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at Epinal American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Dinozé, France, along with others still missing from WWII.

A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

His family was recently notified. He will be buried in Radcliff, Kentucky on a date to be determined.

According to newspaper clippings from the 1940s, Adams lived in Indianapolis for two or three years before entering the service. He worked for the Lukas-Harold Corporation.