The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, accounted for from World War II, are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Marine Corps Reserve Staff Sgt. Richard J. Murphy, Jr., 26, of Chevy Chase, Maryland, accounted for on July 25, 2018, will be buried December 1in Silver Spring, Maryland. On June 15, 1944, Murphy was a member of 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, which landed at Red Beach, Saipan, when American forces participated in the battle for the island of Saipan, part of a larger operation to secure the Mariana Islands. Reports provide little information of what happened to Murphy after landing on Saipan, and he was declared missing in action as of June 15, 1944. On May 22, 1945, his status was amended to killed in action.
The American Graves Registration Service (AGRS), U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps, was charged with recovery and identification of fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater. Following the war, the island of Saipan fell under the AGRS Mariana-Bonin Islands Command. In 1947, Saipan was chosen as the location for the consolidation of remains from the entire sector, which included cemeteries on Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Guam and Tinian. Divisional cemeteries on Saipan were untouched until their official repatriation to Manila in 1948. Remains that could not be identified were interred in the Manila American Cemetery, as “Unknowns,” including one set, designated X-15.
After a thorough historical and scientific analysis, it was determined that X-15 could likely be identified. On Oct. 18, 2017, X-15 was disinterred from Manila American Cemetery and sent to the laboratory for analysis.
To identify Murphy’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) DNA analysis, dental, anthropological and chest radiograph comparison analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence.
DPAA is grateful to the American Battle Monuments Commission for their partnership 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 72,781 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Murphy’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, in Honolulu, along with the others missing from WWII. Although interred as an Unknown in Manila American Cemetery, Murphy’s grave was meticulously cared for over the past 70 years by the ABMC. 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) 699-1420/1169.