TELL CITY, IN (WFIE) - Bringing home our missing soldiers is an effort our country works to achieve every year. Many cases have been solved with modernized forensic technology, and now a Perry County family has their answers.
Army Private First Class Clifford M. Mills was killed during World War II, and was accounted for this January.
Pfc. Mills was a hardworking mail carrier in Troy and the oldest of seven children. At 27, Mills took his work ethic to the military in December of 1942 in Evansville.
“This right here is the only picture we can find of him," Mill’s eldest niece pointed to an aging portrait in a golden frame. She decided to refrain from making her name public until the funeral.
Mills’ niece said since she’s learned her uncle’s been accounted for, she has studied dozens of documents detailing Mills’ service experiences.
“He was in a Glider, and they were going to go into Germany," she told reporters. "But, they got surprised and the Germans were ready for them.”
The Purple Heart soldier mostly served in the sky, as part of the 319th Glider Field Artillery Battalion, 82d Airborne Division.
On September 18 1944, Mills was reported Missing in Action near the Wyler and Zyfflich area in Germany.
“There was a chaplain that came along and took Clifford’s dog tags," Mills’ niece explained. “He turned it in so that they would know that he was out there. Well, they were gong to go back later on and retrieve him, but his body was missing. There was a flood there that took his body away.”
Mills’ family got the call in 2017 that the DNA and dental record recording process was in the works.
Today, he is memorialized on the walls of the missing at the Margraten American Cemetery in the Netherlands. A rosette will be placed there next to Mills’ name showing he’s been accounted for.
“It has been an honor to be able to take care of this, of getting Uncle Clifford back to the United States where he belongs," his niece said.
A nine-man detail from Pfc. Mills’ same division in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, will transfer his remains and take part in the ceremony.
The soldier will receive full military honors at the funeral on March 30 at Tell City’s Zoercher-Gillick Funeral Home.
Local fire departments have been notified and will take part of the procession.
Visitation will be from 9-11 a.m. Service will begin at 11 a.m. Mills’ remains will then be transported to Troy Cemetery for burial.