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Herschel H Mattes


The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today Army 1st Lt. Herschel H. Mattes, 22, of Pittsburgh, was accounted for July 29, 2019.

(This identification was initially published July 31, 2019.)

In early 1944, Mattes was a pilot, assigned to the 525th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, 86th Fighter-Bomber Group. On March 6, 1944, while on an armed reconnaissance mission, his A-36A, Apache aircraft crashed approximately 2.5 miles from Lake Bracciano, Italy. Prior to the crash, his aircraft was struck by small arms or machine gun fire. His remains could not be recovered immediately following the crash.

On the morning of March 6, 1944, 1st Lt. Herschel H. Mattes, a 22-year-old Army pilot from Pittsburgh, flew his A-36A Apache ground attack/dive bomber in central Italy, looking for targets. The plane, which he called “Stelloola” after a nickname he had given his kid sister, Estelle, was hit by gunfire from below. It crashed on the grounds of a villa 25 miles northwest of Rome.
German soldiers occupying the villa buried Mattes—with scraps of his flight jacket—just yards from the house. They marked the makeshift grave with a wooden sign identifying the remains as an American fighter-pilot who was shot down on March 6, 1944.
Three years later, a team from the Army’s Graves Registration Service moved the remains to an American military cemetery on the other side of Rome. With no dog tag or other means of identification, the body was reburied and entered onto the military’s roster of unidentified dead as X-977.

In 1947, the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) recovered remains from a grave found on the grounds of an estate about 2.5 miles from Lake Bracciano. The remains, designated X-977 Nettuno, could not be identified and were interred at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery.

Based upon the original recovery location of X-977, a DPAA historian determined that there was a likely association between the remains and Mattes. On Aug. 4, 2015, the Department of Defense and American Battle Monuments Commission disinterred X-977 and accessioned the remains to the DPAA laboratory for identification.

To identify Mattes’ remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.

DPAA is grateful to the American Battle Monuments Commission and to the U.S. Army Regional Mortuary- Europe/Africa for their partnership in this mission. DPAA is also appreciative for the assistance of Dr. Vincenzo Lucherini, an independent researcher, and Princess Camilla Borghese Khevenhüller, the owner of the villa where X-977 was originally found.

Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 72,661 service members still unaccounted for from World War II, of which approximately 30,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable. Mattes’ name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Florence American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Impruneta, Italy, along with the others missing from WWII. Although interred as an Unknown, Mattes’ grave was meticulously cared for by ABMC for 70 years. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.


Units served with

  • 12th Air Force

    12th Air Force

    The 12th Air Force was established in the USA during the Second World War to provide the Army Air Force component of Operation Torch (the invasion of French North Africa) in 1942. The Air Force initially moved to England for training before...

  • 86th Fighter Group

    86th Fighter Group

    The Group was constituted as 86th Bombardment Group (Light) on 13-Jan 1942, and activated on 10 Feb 1942. It was redesignated 86th Bombardment Group (Dive) in Sep 1942, 86th Fighter-Bomber Group in Aug 1943, and 86th Fighter Group in May 1944. ...

  • 525th Fighter-Bomber Squadron

Associated Place


Event Location Date
Born Pittsburgh, PA 23 May 1921
Enlisted Pittsburgh, PA 3 October 1942
Died approx 2 miles from Lake Bracciano, Italy 6 March 1944
Memorialized Florence American Cemetery, Italy 1945

Mattes remains were not recovered immediately after the war. He was memorialized at:

Tablets of The Missing
Florence American Cemetery and Memorial
Florence, Città Metropolitana di Firenze, Toscana, Italy

Buried Avon, CT 23 September 2019


Date Contributor Update
31 January 2021 03:53:51 466thHistorian Created entry with surname, middlename, firstname, nationality, service number, highest rank, role, biography, events, unit associations and place associations
Sources | E-MAIL WASHINGTON — The Defense POW/MIA,to the 525th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, 86th Fighter-Bomber Group.