World War II POW identified, escorted home to New England to be buried

WWII Soldier Returned Home
WWII Soldier Returned Home(WABI)
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 8:18 PM EDT
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BRUNSWICK, Maine — A World War II solider who was captured during World War II has been returned home to New England.

Army Pfc. Arthur Pierce of Malden, Massachusetts, was a member of the 803rd Engineer Battalion in the Philippines when Japanese forces invaded in December of 1941.

Thousands of U.S. and Filipino service members were captured after the surrender of the Bataan peninsula on April 9, 1942, and later Corregidor Island nearly a month later.

Those who were captured were then forced to walk 65 miles through the Philippines. The march would be known as the Bataan Death March as many endured tropical conditions, heat, humidity and rain without adequate medical care, the National World War II Museum notes.

Officials say the conditions at Cabanatuan Camp, where Pierce was taken, were poor, which led to malnutrition and outbreaks of malaria and dysentery.

Prison camp records note Pierce died on July 19, 1942, and was buried alongside other prisoners in a camp cemetery. He was 26 years old.

Those remains were later exhumed and temporarily moved to a mausoleum near Manila by the American Graves Registration Service. By 1947, only twelve sets of remains were identified, while the rest were buried at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial as Unknowns.

In 2018, Pierce’s “unidentified” remains were disinterred and sent to a laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii.

There, scientists used multiple methods, including mitochondrial DNA analysis, to identify Pierce on July 28, 2022.

Pierce will be buried in Augusta. Brunswick Police and Maine State Police escorted Pierce to a Funeral home on Monday.