The remains of 40 unidentified WWII U.S. military personnel have been returned home to Hawaii from the Philippines.
Upon arrival to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, an “Honorable Carry” ceremony was conducted as the remains of the 40 fallen individuals were disembarked from the aircraft.
The remains were removed from the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency was responsible for exhuming and returning the fallen servicemembers to the U.S., according to a report published by Military Times. It was one of the largest projects that the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has undertaken.
The agency will be taking the remains to a lab at Hickham, where they will be examined and hopefully identified by forensic anthropologists and other experts.
The agency is well-versed in exhuming and identifying the remains of WWII servicemembers in the Philippines.
In 2016, it was given permission by the Army to exhume six graves at the Manila American Cemetery. This resulted in the subsequent identification of Army Sgt. Cread Shuey, who was killed in 1942.
Later on, in March of 2018, members of the agency spent 13 days at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, exhuming the remains of 20 unidentified American servicemembers, who were killed at the Cabanatuan POW Camp.
More recently, between November 2019 and January 2020, the remains of 55 personnel were recovered from the Manila Cemetery. Above some of the graves, there were headstones that read, “Here rests in honored glory a comrade in arms known but to God.”
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency concentrates on recovering and identifying remains from all wars, not just World War II. It currently has an annual budget of $169 million. It has complete staff in Hawaii, consisting of hundreds of employees, that work towards one common goal.
During Fiscal Year 2020, which ended in September, the agency identified 120 American personnel 82 from WWII, 36 from the Korean War, and two from the Vietnam War.
In 2019, the agency had a record-breaking year, identifying 218 American servicemembers.