WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) today paid special tribute to Marylander Private First Class (Pfc) Robert B. Bayne of Dundalk as he was finally returned to his family after nearly seven decades of being interred in an “unknown” grave in France. Pfc Bayne was one of three servicemen missing in action while patrolling the Rhine River in March 1945. Pfc Bayne will be buried in Dundalk on Saturday, May 7.
“I join all Marylanders in honoring Private First Class Bayne of Dundalk who has been missing in action since 1945 when his inflatable raft came under attack in Schwegenheim, Germany while supporting the European Campaign in World War II. Given the recent actions of our troops overseas it is important to take pause to honor those in our Armed Forces, especially our fellow Marylanders, who make the ultimate sacrifice. I am pleased that Pfc Bayne and his family can finally find peace after all of these decades,” said Senator Cardin.
According to the Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO), between 1945 and 1946, Army Graves Registration personnel exhumed remains of three men from two different locations when German citizens reported the graves contained remains of American soldiers recovered from the river in March 1945. Among items found with the remains were military identification tags. Two of the men were identified as enlisted men from the raft — Pvt. Edward Kulback and Pfc. William Gaffney — but due to limited forensic science of the time, the remains of the other individual could not be identified and were interred at the U.S. Military Cemetery in St. Avold, France as “unknown.” In 1948, the remains of the unknown soldier were exhumed to compare them to available records for Bayne. After several years of analysis the remains could not be identified and were reinterred as unknown at the Rhone American Cemetery and Memorial in Draguignan, France, in 1951.
More than 60 years later, analysts from DPMO and the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) developed case leads, evaluated records and determined that modern forensic technology could offer methods to identify the remains. In 2010, the remains were exhumed once again for analysis. At the end of World War II, the U.S. government was unable to recover and identify approximately 79,000 Americans. Today, more than 74,000 are unaccounted-for from the conflict.