East Tennessee veteran to be buried after being unidentified for more than 75 years
Joe Vinyard was killed in the line of duty in Germany in 1944, according to the U.S. Army, who said it took more than 75 years for them to make a positive identification on Vinyard.
MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - In 1944, Joe Vinyard from Loudon County enlisted in the U.S. Army where he would shortly after be sent to Germany to help operate tanks in World War II.
Vinyard would be killed after his tanker took fire, but for more than 75 years, nobody would be able to trace where the East Tennessee man’s remains were. His family had been searching for answers for decades.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency was able to use DNA samples to determine that Vinyard’s remains were in an unmarked grave in Belgium.
“The DNA was taken from the remains and then the family donated DNA so it was the DNA that made the identification. In this case, the DNA numbers were over the top,” said Jim Bell with the U.S. Army.
While many of the relatives of the World War II veteran have passed, nephew Norman Goodson lives in Maryville and was thrilled to learn that the mystery had finally been solved.
“Everybody was really rejoicing, and we’re looking forward to bringing closure to everything,” said Goodson.
Goodson said he recalls very early childhood memories of going hunting with Vinyard when he was around five years old. While he doesn’t know much about his uncle, he has since been able to gain more of an understanding of all he went through during World War II.
“We’ve all got to appreciate the sacrifices those guys made,” said Goodson, who is now in his 80s.
The Army Corporal died at the young age of 23 and will be buried alongside family in Maryville, according to Goodson who said they’re planning for a funeral with full military honors on June 17.
To learn more about Vinyard’s story you can read the full report on his time in the U.S. military on the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website.
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