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World War II soldier buried at Fort Cavazos in Belgium after 70 years | Article

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Soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division Artillery carry the casket of Robert G. Rudd to his final resting place at Bethel Cemetery in the Northern Training Area of ​​Fort Cavazos on December 9, 2023.

Soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division Artillery carry the casket of Robert G. Ladd, Sgt., to his final resting place at Bethel Cemetery in the Northern Training Area of ​​Fort Cavazos, Dec. 9, 2023.
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army Photo Credit: Samantha Harms)

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FORT CAVAZOS, TEXAS — Twelve American flags and one American military flag were waving in the breeze Saturday as Chaplain Matt Barden, 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade commander, welcomed visitors to Bethel Cemetery.

“What an honor it is to be among you, to have the opportunity to lead us in this (service) effort, to commemorate the heroism of a great man, a great soldier. “Sho,” he said.

Bethel Cemetery, located at Fort Cavazos’ northern training range, was opened and was the final resting place for Staff Sgt. Robert G. Ladd rests next to his parents for the first time in 78 years.

Ladd, a member of the 2nd Infantry Division, was killed in the Battle of the Bulge on January 30, 1945.

“I never thought something like this would happen,” Jane Olivier, Rudd’s niece, said after the service. I have this today. ”

The service was attended by more than a dozen veterans and supporters, as well as five of Rudd’s family members, including Olivier. Other family members were unable to attend, but expressed their joy at finally having Rudd home.

“My grandmother was one of her surviving nieces, and she named her youngest son after her,” said Stacey Baldwin, Rudd’s great-niece.

That brought back memories for Olivier.

“In fact,[Stacey’s]grandmother used to write letters to him[when Rudd was in the military],” Olivier said. “She kept writing him letters, and one day she got the letters back.”

Baldwin became emotional thinking about filling in for her grandmother, who was unable to attend that day.

“My grandmother was very, very happy when she heard that he had been found,” she said.

military service, tragic loss

During World War II, Ladd deferred the draft orders he received because he was his mother’s primary caregiver. But when she died, he volunteered to join the U.S. Army, enlisting in Dallas on April 12, 1942. He served in Company C, 2nd Division, 38th Infantry. Division during World War II.

In 1944, American troops massed along Germany’s western border to rest and reequip. On December 16, 1944, the German army launched its final counterattack along the Western Front. The ensuing battle, now known as the Battle of the Bulge, lasted from December 16, 1944 to January 25, 1945, with remnants lasting until February, when more than 19,000 American soldiers died, according to an Army historical report. Lives were lost.

During this counterattack, the 2nd Army concentrated the 99th Infantry Division around Elsenborn in Belgium. They dug trenches to defend their lines and repulsed increasingly desperate German attacks. They finally began advancing from their positions in January 1945, retaking the forest area east of Elsenborn known as the Elsenbuchel Forest.


According to Rudd’s funeral plan, “It was in bright moonlight that the troops launched their attack, and within hours the battalion had secured ground around Wiltsfeld, through chest-high snowdrifts and mine fields.” That’s what it means. Moving on to the town of Roschrad-Klinkert, known as the “Twin Towns”, heavy fighting continued until late in the morning, despite the regimental artillery laying a heavy barrage of fire on the town. Rudd died sometime during the fighting at Roschrus on January 30, 1945.

Due to heavy fighting, heavy artillery bombardment, and significant restrictions in the area, Rudd’s body could not be recovered, and according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Bureau, the Department of the Army reported that on February 20, 1945, Rudd’s body could not be recovered. A death report was submitted. DPAA.

It was in 1946 that the American Cemetery Registry Command was tasked with recovering and identifying remains in the European theater. Those who could not be immediately identified, numbering in the thousands, were taken to the nearest U.S. military cemetery in the area and given names with an X followed by a number.

Over the years, several requests have been made to compare the unknown remains to Rudd’s. However, no match was found.

In 1950, the board determined that Rudd’s body had been “disposed of by the enemy to an unknown location,” and further approved his status as “irretrievable.”


The DPAA announced on October 23 that Rudd will be accounted for on June 20, 2022.

“After reviewing information provided by Belgian and American researchers in 2017, DPAA historians concluded that the grave was buried in what is now the Ardennes American Cemetery in 1949 and was first buried by local Belgian residents in the Elsenbucher Forest. analyzed evidence related to several sets of remains, including the unknown remains, recovered on X-3144 Neuville,” according to the DPAA.

Researchers have suggested to the DPAA that “X-3144” may be related to a missing member of the 99th Infantry Division and that the remains should be buried, with a list of candidates The 99th Infantry Division was expanded to include soldiers like Ladd. , from the second Inf.Department

This list included 18 men from regiments operating north of Wirtzfeld. This was the area where the 38th Troop was stationed. 2nd Chief of Staff DPAA said the department was active at the time of Rudd’s disappearance. Historians point out that, given the location of his regiment, it is quite likely that he died in or very near the Elsenbuchel Forest.

Staff Sergeant Kyle Peebler, 1st Cavalry Division Artillery, presents an American flag to the great-niece of Sergeant Terry Olivier. Robert G. Rudd, Dec. 9, at Bethel Cemetery, surrounded by the rest of his family. Rudd was killed in the Battle of the Bulge and was finally buried 78 years later.

Staff Sergeant Kyle Peebler, 1st Cavalry Division Artillery, presents an American flag to the great-niece of Sergeant Terry Olivier. Robert G. Rudd, Dec. 9, at Bethel Cemetery, surrounded by the rest of his family. Rudd was killed in the Battle of the Bulge and was finally buried 78 years later.
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army Photo Credit: Samantha Harms)

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After multidisciplinary analysis by DPAA historical and scientific staff, X-3144’s remains were disinterred from the Ardennes American Cemetery on June 23, 2021 and transported to the DPAA Laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska for comparison. Ta.

To identify Rudd’s remains, DPAA scientists used anthropological analysis and dental records. In addition, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examination System used mitochondrial DNA, Y-chromosome DNA, and autosomal DNA analysis.

According to Rudd’s obituary, Rudd has since been located and identified based on his reported place and date of death, the circumstances of his loss, and a comprehensive study by historians of the Battle of the Bulge. It has been determined that the person has been identified.

Thanks to input from civilian historians in both the United States and Belgium, as well as long and dedicated research and field work by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Bureau, more than a dozen previously unaccounted for bodies were recovered. The soldier has been identified. Rudd will discuss the research accomplished by these teams, more specifically two Belgian researchers and an American historian focused on the search for members of the 99th Infantry Division who went missing during the Battle of the Bulge. Identified with the benefit of 30 years of analysis and research of the house.

Rudd’s name is on the “Wall of the Missing” at the Dutch American Cemetery, a site of the American Veterans Memorial Commission in Margraten, Netherlands, along with other World War II missing persons. recorded with the people. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate that he has been accounted for.

Awards and evaluations received

Rudd’s decorations include the Bronze Star with medal “V” and one copper oak leaf cluster, the Purple Heart, the Good Conduct Medal, four European, African and Middle Eastern Campaign medals and the Bronze Medal, and the Second World War. Included were the Great War Victory Medal and the Presidential Unit. Medal of Honor, Combat Infantryman Badge, Medal of Honor Lapel Button – World War II and Belgian Fauer Aire.

After his death, his family was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart for his heroism.

After the funeral, Rudd’s family reflected on their relatives and what they had learned about the funeral.

Cindy Williford, Rudd’s great-niece, said: “It was a very emotional day to see everyone come out and know he was coming home, even though it took so long. I was very impressed by their hard work and tenacity.” “Jane and I were at the airport last night when I brought her in, and we watched Austin-Bergstrom Airport stop with lights and water, and we watched this plane taxi to the gate. It was the most surreal moment. I will never forget it.…

“I never expected something like this to happen, so I’m grateful to everyone involved for bringing him home…” she shared. “It will make you proud to be an American.”

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