The US government has identified the remains of 23-year-old Joe A. Vinyard who went missing 79 years ago during World War II in Germany. Vinyard was a crewmember in a M4 Sherman tank and his armored tank was hit by an 88-mm round in December 1944 – his unit was the 77th Tank Battalion.
The remains of Vinyard were exhumed from Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency which works to recover the remains of missing soldiers in Europe. The agency has identified the remains of 1,472 American soldiers who went missing in World War II since the agency was established in 1973. But the government said more than 72,000 American soldiers remain unaccounted for in WWII.
The War Department reported in April 1946 that Vinyard was missing and presumed dead, and then in December 1950, the department said he was “non-recoverable”. But that year, the American Graves Registration Command said they found the remains of two bodies in a tank blown up by Germans in Gey, where Vinyard had fought.
One of the remains was sent to Nebraska, and using anthropological and DNA analyses as well as circumstantial evidence; officials were able to determine that it was the remains of Vinyard. Originally from Tennessee, Vinyard will be buried in Maryville, Tennessee.
Meanwhile, the US government has also identified the remains of 19-year-old Cpl. Luther H. Story went missing during the Korean War 73 years ago on September 1, 1950. Story had been wounded during a battle against North Koreans and he stood his ground to hold off the attackers while his unit members escaped to safety.
His citation says “When last seen, he was firing every weapon available and fighting off another hostile assault.” He was conferred with the highest military honor, the Medal of Honor, in 1951 and the medal presented to his father that same year. The Army declared him unrecoverable on January 16, 1954; but in June 2021, his remains were found among 652 unidentified Korean War casualties interred at the National Memorial Cemetery in Hawaii.
The story will be re-buried at the Andersonville National Cemetery close to his hometown of Americus, Georgia, on May 29. He was identified by DNA, dental, and anthropological analysis.