Pvt. Howard A. Binder, who was from Umatilla and enlisted in the U.S. Army in Portland during World War II, is among a group of 13 soldiers who died Oct. 10, 1944, in Ajoncourt, France.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and the Army’s Past Conflict Repatriation Branch is seeking family members of Binder and others who were killed and remain missing. Relatives are requested to submit a DNA sample to compare with remains recently recovered in the area where the men went missing.
Information about the incident indicate Company B (60th Engineer Combat Battalion) suffered the loss of 47 men in an explosion of anti-tank mines Oct. 10, 1944, around 11 p.m. near Ajoncourt, France. Intermittent enemy artillery and mortar fire had been falling in the area, but it has never been definitely established whether this or a defective fuse caused the explosion.
In all, 1,500 mines exploded, which resulted in a fiery inferno of exploding mines, small arms ammunition and burning vehicles. The night was very dark and there was a heavy fog, which made rescue work most difficult. Of those killed, 13 are still missing.
For more information, visit www.dpaa.mil. To make arrangements to submit a DNA sample, call 1-800-892-2490.