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Human remains in France identified as Denver man killed in action during World War II

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Nearly 80 years after being killed in action in Germany during World War II, a Denver man’s body will finally return home.

Defense agency historians and scientists have identified the body of Harold Schafer, a then 28-year-old man from Denver, who was killed in action in Germany during World War II. (Photo courtesy of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency)

Harold Schafer, 28, was hit by enemy machine gun fire and killed in action during a battle in Dillingen, Germany on Dec. 10, 1944, according to a Thursday news release from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

Schafer was officially declared non-recoverable in November 1951 — now, three-quarters of a century later, he’s set to be returned to and buried in Wheat Ridge, officials announced Thursday.

Schafer’s body was not initially recovered due to intense fighting against heavily reinforced German forces, the release stated. When American troops were ordered to retreat from the Dillingen area on Dec. 21, 1944, he was one of many casualties left behind.

After the war ended, the American Graves Registration Command began investigating and recovering missing American soldiers in Europe, according to Thursday’s release. The organization conducted several investigations in the Dillingen area between 1946 and 1950 but was unable to recover or identify Schafer’s remains.

A defense agency historian studying the unaccounted-for American soldiers lost at Dillingen discovered in 2018 that Schafer could potentially be connected to human remains buried in the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, officials said Thursday.

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