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 Pfc. Francis E. Drake, Jr., 20, of Framingham, Massachusetts, accounted for on Aug. 28, 2017, will be buried May 25 in Springfield, Massachusetts. On October 9, 1942, Drake was a member of Company C, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, participating in a main offensive action in the Battle of Guadalcanal. After nearly two months of battle, the regiment completed their action, however Drake was killed in action. Two other Marines from Drake's battalion were reportedly interred in graves atop Hill 73, alongside him.
From 1947 through 1949, the American Graves Registration Service searched for isolated burials on Guadalcanal but did not associate any remains with Morrissey. Based on the lack of information, Drake was declared non-recoverable.
In 2011, Mr. Yorick Tokuru, a resident of Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, located possible osseous remains near his home on the western edge of Skyline Ridge (Hill 73). A team of Royal Solomon Islands Police Force investigators excavated the site and turned recovered remains over to the state archaeologist. The archaeologist turned the remains over to Mr. John Innes, an Australian expert on the Battle of Guadalcanal, who in turn contacted the Joint POW/MIA Recovery Command (JPAC- now DPAA.)
On July 12, 2013, Mr. Ewan Stevenson, a Guadalcanal native living in New Zealand, contacted JPAC stating more remains had been recovered near the site of the 2011 recovery location.
On August 6, 2013, the remains were unilaterally turned over to JPAC for identification.
To identify Drake’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as historical and material evidence.
DPAA is grateful to Mr. Yorick Tokuru, Mr. John Innes, Mr. Ewan Stevenson and the Solomon Islands government and police force for their assistance in this recovery.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 72,917 service members still unaccounted for from World War II (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable). Drake’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in the Philippines, 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) 699-1420/1169.