ATHENS, Texas (KETK) – The remains of an Athens native killed in World War II will be interred on Oct. 21 at Fort Smith National Cemetery in Arkansas, according to officials.

Graveside services, preceding the internment, for U.S. Army Pvt. John P. Cooper will be performed by Edwards Funeral Home.

“Cooper was assigned to Company B, 778th Tank Battalion, as a crew member of an M4 Sherman tank,” the U.S. Army said in a release. “His unit was engaged in battle with German forces at Pellingen, near Lampaden, Germany, March 7, 1945, when his tank was struck by an enemy shoulder-fired rocket. Witnesses saw Cooper escape the tank, but he was never seen or heard from again.”

Cooper was declared missing in action, but Germany never reported him as a prisoner of war. The War Department issued a presumptive finding of death for him on March 8, 1946. He was declared non-recoverable in October 1951 after several investigations were unable to recover or identify Cooper’s remains.

“While studying unresolved American losses in the Lampaden area, a historian with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency determined that one set of unidentified remains, designated X-562 Hamm, recovered near Steinbach, Germany, in 1945, possibly belonged to Cooper,” officials said. “The remains, which had been buried in Luxembourg American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Hamm, Luxembourg, were disinterred in July 2021 and sent to the DPAA laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, for identification.”

Cooper was accounted for on June 21, 2022 after his remains were identified through circumstantial evidence and dental, anthropological, mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome DNA analysis.

“His name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at Lorraine American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in St. Avold, France, along with others still missing from World War II,” officials said. “A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.”

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