World War II POW Staff Sgt. Holeman accounted for

U.S. Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. David E. Holeman
U.S. Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. David E. Holeman Photo credit DPAA

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced recently that U.S. Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. David E. Holeman, 39, of Le Harpe, Kansas, who was captured and died as a prisoner of war during World War II, was accounted for Aug. 23, 2022.

In late 1941, Holeman was a member of the 17th Pursuit Squadron, 24th Pursuit Group, 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. Holeman 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, Holeman died July 19, 1942, and was buried along with other deceased prisoners in the local Cabanatuan Camp Cemetery in Common Grave 312.

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. Twelve sets of remains from Common Grave 312 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 312 were disinterred and sent to the DPAA laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, for analysis.

To identify Holeman’s remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis as well as circumstantial evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), Y chromosome DNA (Y-STR), and autosomal DNA (auSTR) analysis.

Although interred as an Unknown in MACM, Holeman’s grave was meticulously cared for over the past 70 years by the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC).

Holeman will be buried April 23, 2023, in Independence, Kansas.

Featured Image Photo Credit: DPAA