WWII soldier's remains found, ending family's 80-year search: 'He's a hero'

Private First-Class Mose Vance. (Credit: Ferrell Vance)

A West Virginia family said they have been notified the remains of a missing World War II soldier have been found. 

71-year-old Ferrell Vance of Princeton said his uncle, Private First-Class Mose Vance, was killed in a battle in France, and was missing in action and later presumed dead. He fought in the battle in January 1945. 

Mose was 23 years old. 

Fererll said his uncle died before he was born, but his relatives kept his memory alive. 

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"In my grandmother's house, she had pictures of him on the wall," Ferrell told FOX Television Stations. "And some news clippings about him in the service and what happened to him, and so forth."

"I read those as a young boy," he continued. 

Ferrell said when he retired, he focused his efforts on finding his uncle's remains. He got in touch with a non-profit organization in France whose mission is to find soldiers' remains. The non-profit and Ferrell were able to track his uncle's last known whereabouts in the military. 

After about four years of searching, Mose's bayonet was found in 2022 at a known death site in Wildenguth, France, where many other remains and World War II artifacts are found. 

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Private First-Class Mose Vance. (Ferrell Vance)

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A cross-examination of the DNA was used, and it was a match for Ferrell. Mose's remains were found in 1948 and were buried as "unknown" at the Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium. Military officials were able to match the weapon's inscription with the remains. 

"I was overwhelmed," Ferrell said. "I could hardly talk on the phone."

Ferrell said his uncle's remains are currently at a military base in Nebraska. He hopes to have them in West Virginia in a month, where his cremated ashes can be scattered along with other deceased relatives. 

Ferrell said his uncle was a decorated soldier, earning a Purple Heart and a Gold Star among others. 

"Just the fact he got killed in the war, he's a hero," Ferrell added. 

This story was reported from Los Angeles.