Soon all had drowned but Hough, a former lifeguard from Dayton, Ohio, who was rescued by two 10th Mountain soldiers on shore who heard the cries for help. Hough died in 2005.
Brett Phaneuf, a researcher from the Chester, Conn.-based nonprofit underwater archaeology organization ProMare, led an effort 10 years ago to find the sunken DUKW. Hampered by equipment issues, Phaneuf found no sign of the vehicle.
But in late 2011, a local Italian group of volunteer divers started their own search. Using sonar and a remotely operated vehicle equipped with a video camera, they announced last December the discovery of a WWII DUKW sitting upright on the lake bottom.
Gruppo Volontari del Garda said it hasn't been able to positively confirm that it's the same DUKW that sank, killing the 24 soldiers, or one of the other two known to have sunk in the same area of the lake. The group said it plans to resume efforts to locate remains and recover the DUKW, possibly later this year or in early 2014.
"Seems to us only right to do everything possible in order to restore at least someone to their land," the group's spokesman, Luca Turrini, said in an email to The Associated Press.
Officials at the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command, the Hawaii-based unit that searches for remains of Americans from foreign battlefields, said they're aware of the group's claims but don't plan to investigate unless there's firm evidence that remains have been located.
"If JPAC were to be provided with additional information, we would gladly look into it more," Lee Tucker, a spokesman at JPAC's Pearl Harbor headquarters, said in an email to the AP.
The family of Pvt. James Hilley would like to see his remains recovered and returned to his hometown of Calhoun Falls, S.C.