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World War II soldier killed in France identified as Ashland man 77 years later

Keith Bowen.jpg
Posted at 11:48 AM, Jun 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-13 11:48:51-04

ASHLAND, Ohio — A World War II soldier from Ashland who was killed in France while fighting German forces has been accounted for after 77 years, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA).

U.S. Army Pfc. Sanford Keith Bowen, 26, of Ashland, who was killed during World War II, was accounted for on March 21, 2022.

Bowen Photo 2.jpg
Keith Bowen.

In January 1945, Bowen was assigned to Company I, 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division. His unit was attempting to secure terrain near Reipertswiller, France, when it became surrounded by German forces.

While being pounded by artillery and mortar fire, his unit and the four other companies were surrounded and were given the order to attempt a break-out on Jan. 20, but only two men from Bowen’s unit made it through German lines alive.

The rest were either captured or killed. Bowen was among those killed, but his body was never recovered because of the intense fighting.

Two years later, American Graves Registration Command (AGRC), the organization that searched and recovered fallen American personnel in the European Theater, found 37 undefined sets of American remains around the area of Reipertswiller. AGRC was unable to identify any of them as Bowen, who was declared non-recoverable on May 8, 1951.

Through ongoing research into soldiers missing from combat around Reipertswiller, historians found that a set of remains identified as “Unknown X-6083 St. Avold” was buried at Lorraine American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in France.

Historians believed there was a possibility that the remains could be associated with Bower or four other missing soldiers. X-6083 was disinterred in June 2021 and transferred to the DPAA laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska for further analysis.

Scientists used anthropological analysis and mitochondrial DNA analysis to identify his remains.

Bowen’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at Epinal American Cemetery in Dinoze, France. He joined the others still missing from WWII.

A rosette will be placed next to his name to show that he has been accounted for, DPAA said.

Bowen will be buried on July 22 in Shiloh, Ohio, according to DPAA.

For family and funeral information, contact the Army Casualty Office at 800- 892-2490.

RELATED: WWII soldier killed by artillery blast in Germany identified as Dover man 76 years later

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