Army identifies remains of soldier missing since WWII


PARKTON – The remains of a World War II Parkton lieutenant who has been missing since World War II are now found and will be buried in Robeson County next month, military officials said Thursday.

Army 1st Lieutenant James E. Wright, 25, was reported missing after troops were unable to recover his body following a German attack in September 1944 on American soldiers near the Moselle, according to a press release from the Defense POW / MIA Accounting Agency noted.

Wright was killed in action on September 10, 1944, during a withdrawal across the Moselle near Dornot, France, his biography states on the agency’s website.

In 2012, the remains of unidentified American soldiers recovered in the combat zone between 1945 and 1951 were exhumed from the American cemetery in Luxembourg and identified by DNA tests as Wright, according to the statement.

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News articles from 1944 indicate that Wright was the son of “Mr. and Mrs. A. Wright” of Lumber Bridge.

Other reports indicate that his wife, Margaret C. Wright, of Fayetteville, was listed as a survivor after being reported missing.

He joined the Army in September 1940, as a member of the 120th Infantry, North Carolina National Guard, before joining the Regular Army and going overseas in 1943.

Wright was assigned to F Company, 2nd Battalion, 11th Infantry Regiment, 5th Infantry Division, which was part of Lt. Gen. George S. Patton’s 3rd Army.

1st Lt. James Wright is pictured with other soldiers he served with during World War II.

On September 8, 1944, Wright’s unit was part of a larger force ordered to cross the river and take up position in the woods on the east side.

After digging up defensive positions, German forces attacked, causing losses to Wright’s unit which again crossed the river on September 10, 1944, to retreat.

The soldiers retreated across the river that night and morning of September 11, 1944, as some officers remained behind to search the woods for the wounded or missing before crossing the river again.

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Wright was reported as one of the missing soldiers.

“His body could not be found due to the fighting and the German presence on the east bank of the river,” the press release said.

The press release states that the American Graves Registration Command recovered the remains of fallen servicemen in the area after the war, until 1951.

None of the recovered remains belonged to Wright, who was declared “unrecoverable,” the press release said.

A 1944 newspaper clipping announces that 1st Lt. James E. Wright was reported missing in action, after being deployed to Germany during World War II.

On July 9 of this year, his remains were found.

In 2012, a private researcher from the 7th Armored Division Association suggested that the remains of one of the unknown soldiers found buried in the Luxembourg American Cemetery could match a soldier from Wright’s unit or the 7th Armored Division.

The remains were exhumed in May 2016 and sent to the Defense POW / MIA Accounting Agency lab at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, for identification.

Agency scientists and Armed Forces Medical Examiner System identified Wright’s remains through dental and DNA analysis.

According to the press release, a rosette will be placed next to Wright’s name on the walls of the missing monument in Lorraine American Cemetery in Saint-Avold, France, to indicate that it is taken into account.

Wright will be buried on October 12 at Lumber Bridge.

According to a 1944 press article, he was awarded the Silver Star for bravery while serving in an infantry division in France.

Editor Rachael Riley can be reached at rriley@fayobserver.com or 910-486-3528.

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