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 Pfc. Herman W. Mulligan, Jr., 21, of West Greenville, South Carolina, accounted for on February 20, will be buried August 21 in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C. On May 30, 1945, Mulligan was a member of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Marine Regiment, 6th Marine Division, engaged in heavy fighting against Japanese forces on Hill 27, on the northern bank of the Kokuba Estuary, Okinawa, Japan. A large crypt loaded with ammunition exploded, wounding dozens and killing Mulligan.
The remains of most Americans killed during the fighting in Okinawa were transported to six cemeteries that had been established shortly after American forces landed on the island. The American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) attempted to bury fallen service members in the cemetery of their division, but due to the large number of casualties, deceased were often sent to various unit cemeteries. The disposition of Pfc. Mulligan’s remains was initially unknown.
Following the war, the AGRS searched for and disinterred the remains of U.S. servicemen in the Pacific area as part of a global effort to identify and return fallen servicemen. Investigators at the time could not associate Mulligan’s medical or dental records with any unidentified remains found in Okinawa. Additionally, there was no record of his burial.
By August 1948, more than 10,000 remains were disinterred from Okinawa and shipped to Saipan prior to being shipped to Manila. In September 1949, one set of unidentified remains, X-35, was classified as unidentifiable and interred in the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines.
In May 2017, following thorough historical research and analysis of unit records and AGRS recovery reports, X-35 was disinterred and accessioned to DPAA for scientific testing.
To identify Mulligan’s remains, DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA), as well as anthropological analysis, and 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 72,906 service members (approximately 26,000 assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Mulligan’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, 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.