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LEAP Scholar Helps Bring Home Fallen U.S. Soldiers

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  • By AFCLC Outreach Team

According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, “from September 1944 to February 1945, soldiers from at least nine U.S. divisions battled German forces in the Hürtgen Forest, a roughly 70 sq. mi. area of wooded, hilly terrain in Germany near the Belgian border. It was one of the U.S. Army's longest battles during World War II and led to more than 24,000 American casualties. The DPAA’s Hürtgen Forest Project has helped lead to the recovery and identification of more than 30 American soldiers previously missing from combat there… more than 160 service members [are] still unaccounted-for from that campaign.”

Language Enabled Airman Program Scholar and Foreign Area Officer Maj. Sandy Van den Mooter is currently providing Flemish language support to a DPAA recovery/excavation mission in Belgium to recover the remains of a missing U.S. Army Air Corps pilot who crashed on a farm in 1944.

While working at the site, Van den Mooter met the daughter of the missing service member, surviving Belgian World War II veterans who came to pay their respects, and Belgian students visiting for educational tours.

“As a nation, we put a lot of our stock and credibility in our dedication to bring our soldiers, airmen, and sailors home. These DPAA missions are a very visible way in which we do just that.  I’m honored to have been able to play a small part in one of these efforts,” Maj. Van den Mooter said.

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