Advanced DNA Used to Identify Remains After 70 Years
Edmonson Voice Report:
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced on Tuesday that U.S. Army Pvt. 1st Class Thomas F. Brooks, 23, of Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, who was captured and died as a prisoner of war during World War II, was accounted for June 20, 2023.
In late 1942, Brooks was a member of the Company D, 194th Tank Battalion, US Army Forces Far East, when Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands in December. Intense fighting continued until the surrender of the Bataan peninsula on April 9, 1942, and of Corregidor Island on May 6, 1942.
Thousands of U.S. and Filipino service members were captured and interned at POW camps. Brooks was among those reported captured when U.S. forces in Bataan surrendered to the Japanese. They were subjected to the 65-mile Bataan Death March and then held at the Cabanatuan POW camp. More than 2,500 POWs perished in this camp during the war.
According to prison camp and other historical records, Brooks died Dec. 10, 1942, and was buried along with other deceased prisoners in the local Cabanatuan Camp Cemetery in Common Grave 917.
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. Five sets of remains from Common Grave 917 were identified, but the rest were declared unidentifiable. The unidentified remains were buried at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial (MACM) as Unknowns.
In early 2018, the remains associated with Common Grave 917 were disinterred and sent to the DPAA laboratory for analysis.
To identify Brooks’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.
Although interred as an Unknown in MACM, Brooks’s grave was meticulously cared for over the past 70 years by the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC).
A graveside service with full military honors will be held at Hill Grove Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery, located at 1900 Dickeys Mill Road, Mammoth Cave, KY 42259 on Sunday, October 1, 2023 at 11:00 a.m. CST. There will be limited seating available and people are encouraged to bring a lawn chair. Parking arrangements and transportation have been arranged across the street from the cemetery. Media parking will be designated.
During the graveside service, his family will be presented with his honors: The Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, POW Medal, Army Good Conduct medal, American Defense Service Medal, Asiatic/Pacific Campaign Medal, WWII Victory Medal, and the Philippine Defense Medal. Other presentations are expected and will be announced as available.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil, find us on social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa or https://www.linkedin.com/company/defense-pow-mia-accounting-agency.
Brooks’s personnel profile can be viewed here.