TROY, Ind. — Seventy-five years after enemy forces shot down his glider over Germany during World War II, Pfc. Clifford M. Mills is coming home to Perry County.
Mills was 29 on Oct. 18, 1944, when he was reported missing in action near Wyler and Zyfflich, Germany. He was serving with the 319th Glider Field Artillery Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division.
"They were going to go back later to retrieve him, but when they did he was missing. There was a flood there, and his body was missing. He was an unknown soldier for quite a while," said a niece of Mills, who spoke to some local media members Tuesday and requested that, for now, her name not be used.
Mills' remains eventually were recovered and placed in a U.S. military cemetery in Belgium, but he remained unidentified. His name is listed on the Walls of Missing at Margraten American Cemetery in the Netherlands.
After a process that involved taking DNA from Mills' brother in Perry County and studying family dental records, Mills' remains finally were identified on Jan. 29.
"That's when they started the process of trying to get him back to the United States," Mills' niece said. "It has been an honor to be able to take care of this and getting Uncle Clifford back to the United States where he belongs."
Details of the remains' arrival in the United States from Europe are not finalized. The remains will be returned to Zoercher-Gillick Funeral Home in Tell City for a funeral on March 30 with burial to follow in Troy Cemetery.
A nine-person detail from Mills' division is expected to come to Tell City from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, for his service.
The resident of Troy, Indiana, was the oldest of seven children born to Robert and Myrtle Van Winkle Mills and the husband of Ethel Siscel. Mills and his wife had no children. He enlisted in 1942 after working as a letter carrier and coal hauler.
Mills' family members will receive the soldier's Purple Heart, World War II Victory Medal, Good Conduct medal and other awards during a ceremony at 1 p.m. Evansville time March 20 at the Jasper National Guard Armory.
Nowy van Hedel, a resident of the Netherlands, researched Mills' MIA case and recently uploaded a video to YouTube showing a U.S. flag ceremony honoring Mills at Margraten.
Van Hedel wrote this caption on the video: “This ceremony has been arranged in preparation of the funeral of PFC Clifford Mills 82nd Airborne, 319th GFAB. After 75 years listed as MIA, his remains are found and identified. It took me 12 years of research since I have adopted his name at the wall of missing. It took a lot of time but he will be home soon and buried next to his wife Ethel.”