Private Wing O. Hom has been missing in action since Feb. 2, 1944 — and now, 79 years later, his remains have finally returned to the United States.
The remains of U.S. Army Private Wing O. Hom have finally been identified using mitochondrial DNA testing nearly 80 years after he went MIA.
Hom had left his hometown of Boston to fight against German forces in Italy as part of Company B, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division in the U.S. Army.
On Feb. 2, 1944, Hom went MIA near Cisterna di Latina, a town around 40 miles south of Rome, during a defensive campaign against German forces. He was 20 years old.
The Germans had not reported him as a prisoner of war.
According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), Hom’s whereabouts remained a complete mystery until September 1944.
The 3044th American Graves Registration Company stumbled on remains in Ponte Rotto, roughly three miles west of Cisterna di Latina.
The company could not identify the remains at the time, given their poor condition. They were also unable to find any identity tags.
The company decided to send the remains to the Central Identification Point (CIP) at Nettuno for processing, but they, too, declared that the remains were too fragmented to make an identification. The only conclusion they could arrive at was that the remains were those of an American soldier.
From there, the CIP declared the remains unidentifiable and had them permanently interred at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in 1948. A year later, the U.S. government declared Hom non-recoverable.
That seemed to be the end of Hom’s story until one curious historian decided to take a shot at solving this mystery.
In 2021, a DPAA historian studying American casualties during the war believed that the remains found in Cisterna likely belonged to Hom.
By September 2021, the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery exhumed the remains and sent them to DPAA for testing.
A specialized team at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska used anthropological analysis and mitochondrial DNA to make a positive identification. At last, nearly 80 years after going MIA, Hom had been identified.
In April 2023, Hom was formally identified by the U.S. government. The DPAA is now in the process of communicating with family members to plan a funeral. As of today, Hom will be buried in Brooklyn in October of this year.
In the meantime, Hom’s name on the Walls of the Missing at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Nettuno will be followed by a rosette symbolling that he has been found.
A similar story broke earlier this month with the discovery of the body of a WWII sailor.
According to the New York Post, 24-year-old Anthony Di Petta was shot down by enemy fire in the Pacific.
The U.S. government declared Petta non-recoverable on July 16, 1949. In 2015, a nonprofit group identified Di Petta’s plane and recovered remains and other material evidence.
Like Hom’s case, the DPAA laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii used dental records and mitochondrial DNA to positively identify Di Petta nearly 80 years after his fatal crash.
After learning about the discovery and identification of Wing O. Hom, dive into 66 iconic photos from World War Two. Then, read about how DNA testing led a Virginia woman to solve a decades-old double murder.