The Chance Find of an American MIA Soldier from WWII
An American MIA soldier from WWII was recovered in 2011. Pvt Eugene J. Appleby, 21, went missing in action on September 17, 1944 in The Netherlands during Operation Market Garden. He was with the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division, A Company. He was declared dead on September 18, 1945 and listed as MIA.
The regiment was tasked with landing at “Drop Zone T” just north of Groesbeek, Netherlands. Their mission was to seize the Nijmegen Bridge across the Waal River. They landed safely, but as they were running around grabbing their gear and parachutes in preparation to move toward their objective, Appleby was struck in the forehead by enemy fire. Only Capt. John P. Foley saw him fall. His body was not recovered.
Young Pvt Appleby had enlisted in Columbus, Ohio on November 20, 1943. Friends said that he was a “bit of a daredevil” and owned his own plane and car, which was a rarity in the 1940s. He was also a talented pianist. He had less than a year as an Army paratrooper.
There were others just like him. Men who signed up to fight for America and never made it past their first battles. The WWII Generation had a different mindset than current generations, and cared more about America than themselves.
In 2011, The Royal Netherlands Army and Recovery Unit (RIU) was notified by Groesbeek Police that human remains had been found on a farm. The remains were transferred to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, now DPAA, for identification. In January 2017, it was revealed that the remains were of Pvt Eugene J. Appleby.
Pvt Appleby was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart posthumously after he was declared deceased.
Eugene J. Appleby will be transported to the John Glenn International Airport on June 20, 2017. The memorial service will be on June 22 at the Miller Funeral Home in Coshocton, Ohio. Full military honors by the United States Army Active Duty Honor Guard will follow at the cemetery.