LOS ANGELES (AP) — Nearly three-quarters of a century after he was killed in the ferocious World War II battle chronicled in the 1977 film “A Bridge Too Far,” Staff Sgt. David Rosenkrantz is coming home to Los Angeles.
The U.S. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced Thursday that Rosenkrantz’s body was recently recovered not far from where he died in battle in the Netherlands in 1944.
“It’s very fresh and exciting news,” Rosenkrantz’s nephew Phillip Rosenkrantz told The Associated Press, adding the family hopes to eventually have his uncle buried in Riverside National Cemetery, near the graves of four of his brothers who also served in the military.
“I think it’s only fitting that he go to rest with his brothers,” said Rosenkrantz, a professor emeritus at California Polytechnic University in Pomona.
David Rosenkrantz was a member of the 82nd Airborne Division’s Company H, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment when it made a daring landing in Holland in the early days of September 1944. According to the military, he was killed on Sept. 28 during a fierce attack by German tanks and infantry near a farm south of the Dutch town of Groesbeek.
“Due to enemy fire and the proximity to enemy troops, Rosenkrantz’s remains could not be recovered,” the DPAA said in its statement.
Dutch authorities and local citizens searched for the body for years, but Rosenkrantz’s nephew said it became separated from its dog tags when somebody moved it at some point. The remains were recently found and identified through DNA testing.
The soldier’s nephew expressed gratitude to the Dutch people, some of whom he said have looked for years for his uncle’s remains. People in the area still pay tribute every year to the Allied forces who helped liberate their country, Phillip Rosenkrantz added.
His uncle died during the drawn-out battle known as Operation Market Garden, an Allied effort to end the war in Europe early by breaking through German defensive lines by capturing a highway route leading to Germany through the Netherlands.
The effort failed when the Allies were unable to capture a key bridge crossing the Rhine River, a circumstance from which the 1977 movie and the book that it was based on take their names.
David Rosenkrantz was born in Los Angeles on Oct. 31, 1916, and grew up in the city’s Watts neighborhood.
After graduating from Jordan High School in Long Beach he worked for a time at a General Motors plant before enlisting in the Army soon after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
A fearless soldier, according to local newspaper accounts of the time, he fought in Italy before being dispatched to the Netherlands. He was awarded two Bronze Stars, the second one posthumously.
His nephew, who was born after Rosenkrantz died, has spent years researching his life, noting his death was so devastating that family members rarely wanted to talk about him. He was the middle child of 11 siblings, now all deceased.
“He was kind of like the glue in the family, the life of the family, everybody loved him,” his nephew said.