Warren Glinn Harding DeVault was a United States Army soldier who went missing in action during the Battle of the Hürtgen Forest on November 20, 1944. His remains were recovered in 1947 and identified in September 14, 2020.
Warren DeVault was born on September 29, 1920 to Will and Delphia DeVault in Rhea , Tennessee. He was the youngest of their nine children. On November 14, 1942, he enlisted in the United States Army from Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. Before he enlisted, DeVault was working on his father's farm in Dayton, Tennessee. He was assigned as a Private to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division.
The 4th Infantry Division took part in the Battle of Hürtgen Forest. Between September 19 to December 16, 1944, American and German forces fought in a series of fierce battles in and around the Hürtgen Forest of Germany. On November 20, 1944, DeVault was reported killed in action by his unit after engaging with German forces near Hürtgen, Germany, but he could not be recovered due to the heavy and intense fighting in the area.
The Battle of Hürtgen Forest became a defensive victory for Germany, with 33,000 to 55,000 casualties on the American side and 28,000 casualties on the German side. It was the longest battle on German ground during World War II and is the longest single battle the US Army has fought.
After the war's end, the American Graves Registration Service was tasked to identify unknown soldier's remains from the European Theatre. However, they were unable to locate and identify DeVault's remains. In January of 1952, the AGRS ruled him unrecoverable. After his death, he was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star and was memorialized at the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial in Martgraten, Netherlands and at Spence Cemetery in Dayton.
In 1947, skeletal remains of a US soldier were discovered in the Hürtgen Forest. They were identified only as "X-5429 Neuville" and buried in Ardennes American Cemetery in Neupré, Belgium in 1951. In 2018, a historian for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency noticed similarities between DeVault and "X-5429 Neuville."
In April of 2019, "X-5429 Neuville" was exhumed and transported to the DPAA laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, for identification. At the lab, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y-chromosome DNA (Y-STR) analysis and DPAA scientists used dental and anthropological analysis and circumstantial evidence and identified "X-5429 Neuville" as Warren Glinn Harding DeVault on September 14, 2020. His identification was announced on September 15, 2020 and again on July 8, 2021.
He will be buried on August 14, 2021, in Dayton.