TN Governor proclamation honors WWII soldier killed 77 years ago in Germany, funeral this weekend

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Army Pvt. Warren G.H. DeVault, 24, of Rhea, Tennessee (Photo via DPAA)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A World War II soldier killed in combat 77 years ago during the Battle of Hurtgen Forrest in Germany will be laid to rest in Dayton on Saturday, inspiring Governor Bill Lee to designate August 14, 2021, as a “Day of Mourning in Remembrance of Private Warren Glinn Harding DaVault.

A funeral with full military honors is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church of Dayton. DaVault will be laid to rest in Spence Cemetery, according to an obituary at the Coulter Garrison Funeral Home.

DaVault was 24 years old when he was killed in action on Nov. 20, 1944, near Hurtgen, Germany. He was a student and athlete at Rhea Central High School who chose to enlist in the U.S. Army rather than finish his senior year.

Pfc. Benny Barrow of St. Louis, Missouri gives a helping hand to a buddy as they make a difficult climb in the Hurtgen Forest, southwest of Buren, Germany, during the allied offensive. Company I, 3rd Battalion, 8th Regiment, 4th Infantry Division. Photo by: Tec 4 Moran, 165th Signal Photo Company (Courtesy of U.S. National Archives)

DaVault’s body could not be recovered at the time of his death in 1944 because of ongoing fighting, and his remains were not recovered or identified, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency in Washington D.C.

A historian studying American losses in the Hurtgen area later determined that one set of unidentified remains possibly belonged to DaVault, leading to positive identification made at a laboratory in Nebraska.

The Battle of Hurtgen Forest was a series of battles between American and German forces fought between September and December 1944. U.S Army unit records that say the 8th Infantry Division was in the front lines for 80 consecutive days during the Battle for the Hurtgen Forest, making it one of the longest battles the U.S. Army has ever fought.

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