The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that U.S. Army Staff Sgt. James Rotunno, 27, of Brooklyn, killed during World War II, was accounted for Sept. 27, 2022.
In January 1945, Rotunno was assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division. The unit was engaged with German forces during the Battle of Reipertswiller in France and was surrounded, along with four other companies. The surrounded companies were given the order to attempt a break-out on Jan. 20, but only two men made it through German lines. The rest were either captured or killed. Rotunno was among those killed in the aftermath on Jan. 21, but his body could not be recovered because of the fighting.
Beginning in 1946, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC), the organization that searched for and recovered fallen American personnel in the European Theater, searched the area around Reipertswiller, finding 37 unidentified sets of American remains, none of which could be identified as Rotunno. He was declared non-recoverable on Oct. 11, 1951.
DPAA historians have been conducting on-going research into Soldiers missing from combat around Reipertswiller, and found that X-6049 St. Avold, which had been buried at Lorraine American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in St. Avold, France, could be associated with Rotunno. X-6049 was disinterred in June 2021 and transferred to the DPAA Laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, for analysis.
To identify Rotunno’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.
Rotunno’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at Epinal American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Dinozé, France, along with others still missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
Rotunno will be buried on a date yet to be determined, in Rutherford, New Jersey.
For family and funeral information, contact the Army Casualty Office at (800) 892-2490.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil or find us on social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa or https://www.linkedin.com/company/defense-pow-mia-accounting-agency.
Rotunno’s personnel profile can be viewed at https://dpaa-mil.sites.crmforce.mil/dpaaProfile?id=a0Jt0000000XeX3EAK.