Inside DPAA’s hunt for lost service members

Department of Defense division works to find missing American service members


The remains of a Vermont World War II soldier who died as a prisoner of war in the Philippines in 1942 were laid to rest Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery.

Army Pfc. Arthur Barrett, of Swanton, was a member of the 31st Infantry Regiment when Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands in December 1941, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Army Pfc. Arthur Barrett

Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

Barrett was among thousands of U.S. and Filipino service members captured and held at prisoner of war camps. More than 2,500 died at Cabanatuan camp during the war, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

Barrett, 27, died on July 19, 1942, and was buried alongside other prisoners in a common grave. The American Graves Registration Service exhumed the remains after the war and were able to identify 12 sets, the agency said. The unidentified remains were then buried at Manila American Cemetery and Memorial as unknowns, it said.

The remains were exhumed again in 2018 and sent to an agency lab in Hawaii for DNA and other analysis. The agency announced in July that Barrett’s remains had been identified.

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To identify Barrett’s remains, scientists used anthropological analysis as well as circumstantial evidence, officials said, and scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA analysis.

Since 2015, the DPAA has identified nearly 1,200 soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, using remains returned from 45 countries.

The agency says that more than 72,000 soldiers from World War II remain unaccounted for.

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