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  • Writer's pictureDennis McCaslin

Burial for soldier whose remains were identified earlier this year set October 21 at FSNC

Funeral services have been announced for an East Texas solider killed during World War II whose remains were identified earlier this summer, the U.S. Army Human Resources Command Public Affairs Office announced on Wednesday morning.

The remains of U.S. Army Pvt. John P. Cooper will be interred Oct. 21, at Fort Smith National Cemetery. Graveside services will be performed by Edwards Funeral Home before the interment.

Cooper has a brother who is also interred in the Fort Smith National Cemetary. His surviving relatives--nieces and nephews--live in the Fort Smith area according to Jim Edwards with Edwards Funeral Home .

In March 1945, Cooper was assigned to Company B, 778th Tank Battalion, as a crew member of an M4 Sherman tank. His unit was engaged in battle with German forces at Pellingen, near Lampaden, Germany, on March 7 when his tank was struck by an enemy shoulder-fired rocket. Witnesses saw Cooper escape the tank, but he was never seen or heard from again.

He was declared missing in action, but the Germans never reported him as a prisoner of war. On March 8, 1946, with no evidence Cooper survived the fighting, the War Department issued a presumptive finding of death.

Following the end of the war, the American Graves Registration Command was tasked with investigating and recovering missing American personnel in Europe. They conducted several investigations in the Pellingen area between 1946 and 1950, but were unable to recover or identify Cooper’s remains. He was declared non-recoverable in October 1951.

While studying unresolved American losses in the Lampaden area, a DPAA historian determined that one set of unidentified remains, designated X-562 Hamm, recovered near Steinbach, Germany, in 1945 possibly belonged to Cooper. The remains, which had been buried in Luxembourg American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Hamm, Luxembourg, in 1950, were disinterred in July 2021 and sent to the DPAA laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, for identification.

To identify Cooper’s 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) and Y chromosome DNA (Y-STR) analysis.

Cooper’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at Lorraine American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in St. Avold, France, along with the others still missing from World War II. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

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