Army Tech. Sgt. Thompson, killed in WWII, accounted for

 Army Tech. Sgt. Ross H. Thompson
Army Tech. Sgt. Ross H. Thompson Photo credit DPAA

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that Army Tech. Sgt. Ross H. Thompson, 50, of Maryville, Tennessee, who was captured and died as a prisoner of war during World War II, was accounted for Nov. 10, 2021.

In late 1941, Thompson was a member of the Finance Department, U.S. Army Forces Far East (USAFE), 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.

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Thousands of U.S. and Filipino service members were captured and interned at POW camps. Thompson was among those reported captured when USAFE 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, Thompson 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 of the 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) on Feb. 15 and 16, 1950, as Unknowns.

In March 2018, the remains associated with Common Grave 917 were disinterred and sent to the DPAA laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, for analysis.

To identify Thompson’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental, anthropological, and isotope 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, Thompson’s grave was meticulously cared for over the past 70 years by the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC).

Thompson will be buried in Kent, Washington. The date has yet to be determined.