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World War II POW from Louisiana accounted for 82 years after Bataan Death March

Military labs identify fallen soldiers
Military labs identify long-fallen soldiers 02:54

A 20-year-old soldier from Louisiana who died as a prisoner of war during World War II has been accounted for, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said Monday

U.S. Army Pfc. Joseph C. Murphy was serving in the 31st Infantry Regiment in the Philippines in 1942. While he was serving, Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands, sparking months of intense fighting in the region. During this time, thousands of U.S. and Filipino service members were captured as prisoners of war

Murphy was among those reported captured when U.S. soldiers in the Bataan peninsula surrendered to Japanese forces, the DPAA said, and was one of tens of thousands of POWs subjected to the Bataan Death March in the spring of 1942. After the 65-mile trek, Murphy and other soldiers were held at the Cabanatuan POW Camp #1. 

Camp records show that Murphy died on Oct. 28, 1942, the DPAA said. More than 2,500 prisoners of war died at this camp during World War II, according to the DPAA. Murphy was buried in a mass grave at the camp. 

U.S. Army Pfc. Joseph C. Murphy. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

That grave was exhumed by the American Graves Registration Service after the war came to an end. The remains were relocated to a U.S. military mausoleum near Manila, the capital of the Philippines, and in 1947, the agency attempted to identify the remains. Most of those from the mass grave Murphy was buried in were considered unidentifiable, and they were buried as unknown soldiers at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial. Murphy's name was memorialized on the Walls of the Missing at the cemetery. 

In 2019, those remains were exhumed again by the DPAA. Advanced technology, including dental and anthropological analysis and mitochondrial DNA analysis, were used to help identify the remains. Those analyses, as well as circumstantial evidence, allowed the DPAA to positively identify Murphy's remains. 

Now that he has been accounted for, a rosette will be placed besides Murphy's name on the Walls of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial. He will be buried in his Louisiana hometown in early August. 

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