The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, recently accounted-for from World War II, are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Technician Fourth Grade Pete M. Counter, 24, of Detroit, will be buried November 11 in Onaway, Michigan. On Dec. 5, 1942, Counter was a member of Company C, 126th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Infantry Division, when he was killed during intense engagement with Japanese forces in the vicinity of Soputa-Sanananda Track in the Australian Territory of Papua (present-day Papua New Guinea.) He was reportedly buried in an isolated grave north of Soputa.
In February 1943, the remains of an unidentified American soldier, tentatively associated with the 32nd Infantry Division, were interred at the U.S. Temporary Cemetery #2 at Soputa. On April 6, 1943, the remains, designated “Unknown X-10” were reinterred at Temporary Cemetery #1 at Soputa, then interred at U.S. Armed Forces Finschhafen #2, and redesignated “Unknown X-171.”
In 1947, the American Graves Registration service exhumed approximately 11,000 graves, including X-171, which was redesignated to X-2693, and shipped the remains to the Central Identification Point at the Manila Mausoleum in the Philippines. X-2693 could not be identified and were interred at Fort McKinley (now the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial.)
In November 2016, DPAA received authorization to reexamine the remains from the MACM. Unknown X-2693 was disinterred Nov. 4, 2016 and sent to the laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska for analysis.
To identify Counter’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) analysis, which matched his family, as well as dental and anthropological analysis, which matched his records, and circumstantial evidence.
DPAA is grateful to the American Battle Monuments Commission for their assistance in this mission.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 72,977 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Counter’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at an American Battle Monuments Commission site along with the other MIAs from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
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 call (703) 699-1420.