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Louisiana soldier accounted for from WWII, headed home to Bogalusa 82 years later

2 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago Monday, June 24 2024 Jun 24, 2024 June 24, 2024 7:25 PM June 24, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

MANILA - Nearly 80 years after a Louisiana WWII soldier died in the Philippines, his body is headed home to be buried in Bogalusa.

U.S. Army Private First Class Joseph C. Murphy was 20 when he died as a prisoner of war. He had been unaccounted for until scientists used dental records to identify his body in April.

In 1942, PFC. Murphy entered the U.S. Army from Bogalusa, Louisiana, and was a member of Company I, 31st Infantry Regiment in the Philippines during WWII. He was captured following the American surrender of the Bataan Peninsula on April 9, 1942, and forced on the 65-mile Bataan Death March.

"He was a prisoner of war so he suffered. Especially at that time, it was very brutal," said Ted Krumm, cemetery program director for Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs.

Thousands of U.S. and Filipino service members were captured and interned at prisoner of war camps. More than 2,500 perished in this camp during the war.

Murphy died of dysentery and malnutrition on October 28, 1942, and was buried along with other deceased prisoners in the local Cabanatuan Camp Cemetery in Common Grave 713.

Following the war, American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) personnel exhumed those buried at the Cabanatuan cemetery and relocated the remains to a temporary U.S. military mausoleum near Manila. 

In 1947, the AGRS examined the remains in an attempt to identify them. Two of the sets of remains from Common Grave 713 were identified, but the rest were declared unidentifiable.

In April 2019, as part of the Cabanatuan project, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) exhumed the remains associated with Common Grave 713 and sent them to the DPAA laboratory for analysis.

"Because of science and with DNA, they can now go back and look at some of these folks," Krumm said. "We identified them by DNA so we now know it is this person."

To identify Murphy's remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence. In addition, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (MTDNA) analysis.

He was accounted for April 1, 2024.

Krumm said the project is important to give families a sense of closure. 

"It's so important to bring them home, so that the family can see how much we appreciate what they did for our country," he said. 

PFC. Murphy will be buried in Bogalusa, Louisiana, on Aug. 3, 2024.

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