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POW/MIA Information for Families (Read 5099 times)
JohnEakin
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POW/MIA Information for Families
Aug 18th, 2012, 2:37pm
 
A few years ago I went looking for information on my Cousin, Arthur H. "Bud" Kelder, 2nd General Hospital, who died in Cabanatuan Camp I on November 19, 1942.  In doing so, I've come across a lot information and documents which I'd like to share with other POW/MIA family members.

The US Government did a fairly good job of recovering remains after the war, but a not so good job of identifying the remains recovered from Cabanatuan as well as those from the defense of Bataan, Corregidor and The Death March.  For example, in one case we've found, two men were buried in the same grave at Cabanatuan and their identities were recorded in the burial record.  One was identified, but no dental records were available for the other man so he remains an unknown seventy years later  - his family was told simply that there were no remains to return.  In another case the identity of the remains were obvious, but dental records were not found because they used an incorrect spelling of the last name (which wouldn't have been difficult to find if anyone had looked). These are the exceptions, but illustrate that more research is warranted on all these cases.

While there are presently no plans to disinter these unknowns for identification, the Army Casualty Office is stepping up their efforts to obtain a Family Reference Sample (DNA) from the family of each WWII MIA and ask that someone from each family contact them.  Their phone is 800-892-2490 and other contact information is available at their website. (Google Past Conflicts Repatriation Branch)

It is very important for all families to participate because each identification depends not just on a single DNA sample, but also those of others who may have been involved in the same incident or grave.

An additional reason to contact the Army Casualty Office is to request a copy of the Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF) for your family member.  This file often contains information not previously released.

We have found that in those pre-copy machine days it was common that many documents did not find their way in to every concerned file so it is best to request the files for everyone who was buried in the same grave at Cabanatuan.  If you will email me at bataanmissing at gmail.com and tell me who your family member is and your relationship I'll send you a list of related files to ask for.  (I usually cc: this information to the Army Casualty Office, but you still have to call them and ask for it.)  In some cases, I may be able to provide files detailing efforts to identify the remains from that communal grave.

We have currently accounted for 2,724 men who were buried in the Cabanatuan I & III Cemeteries, of whom 950 were not identified and are now buried in the Manila American Cemetery as unknowns (where there are a total of 3,744 unknowns).  An excerpt of this burial list is available at BataanMissing.com .  We continue to collect information on other unknowns from the Defense of Bataan and Corregidor, the Bataan Death March and POW Camps in the Philippines so just ask if you don't find what you need.

The members of my family have found great comfort in knowing where our family member is buried and that his grave is well maintained.  I'll be happy to share similar information with other families if I can.

John Eakin
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