Second World War fighter pilot identified by DPAA

Capt. Albert L. Schlegel and a Fighter Group P-51D Quartet.
Capt. Albert L. Schlegel and a Fighter Group P-51D Quartet.

Full military honors will be accorded to the remains of a missing Second World War U.S. serviceman following identification after being returned to his family for internment the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced recently.

Capt. Albert L. Schlegel, 25, of Cleveland, Ohio, of the Army Air Forces, will be interred in Beaufort, South Carolina on March 30.

Schlegel was the pilot of a P-51D Mustang aircraft on Aug. 28, 194, conducting a ground strafing mission near Strasbourg, France, when he radioed that he had been struck by concentrated anti-aircraft fire and would need to bail from his aircraft.

There was no further radio communication from him. Historical records indicated that Valmy residents reported that an unknown American flyer was taken captive in their village that same evening.

On Nov. 18, 1944, a set of remains was discovered near a train station in Valmy. The remains were forwarded to the temporary American cemetery at Champigueul, and labeled as X-73.

The American Graves Registration Command declared the remains unidentifiable on Dec. 6, 1948. He is buried in France at Epinal American Cemetery under a headstone that read ‘Here Rests in Honored Glory a Comrade in Arms Known but to God.’

In January 2016, DPAA researchers determined that utilizing advanced forensic technology, the remains might be identified, and X-73 was disinterred, and the remains were sent to the Nebraska-based DPAA laboratory in Offutt Air Force Base for identification.

Scientists from DPAA used laboratory analysis, including anthropological and dental analysis which matched his records, as well as circumstantial evidence to identify Schlegel’s remains.

DPAA thanks the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) for their assistance, support and care of his burial site, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency reported.

As well, Schlegel’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at an ABMC site along with nearly 79,000 other MIAs from WWII. A rosette adornment will be placed next to his name, to indicate he has been accounted for.

Sixteen million served in World War II. Over 400,000 died during the war. Presently there are 76,074 service members still unaccounted for from the Second World War.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE