The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, unaccounted for from World War II, have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Cpl. Frederick G. Collins, Jr., 23, of San Francisco, will be buried Sept. 15, 2017 in Riverside, California. On Dec. 8, 1941, Collins was assigned to the 263rd Quartermaster Company, Quartermaster Corps (QMC), located at Nichols Field, in Manila, Philippines, when hostile Japanese forces sent the QMC on a gradual withdrawal into Bataan Province. Following the April 9, 1942 surrender to the Japanese, Collins and other members of the QMC captured in Bataan began the torturous 65-mile “Bataan Death March” northward, where they were imprisoned at Camp O’Donnell. Because of overcrowding and an excessive death rate at Camp O’Donnell, Collins and other POWs were transferred to Camp Cabanatuan. More than 2,800 POWs perished in Camp Cabanatuan during the remaining years of the war. On Nov. 19, 1942, 14 Americans, including Collins, were reported to have died and were buried by their fellow prisoners in Common Grave 717 in Cabanatuan Camp #3 Cemetery.
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 cemetery near Manila. In late 1947, the AGRS again exhumed the remains at the Manila cemetery in an attempt to identify them. Due to the circumstances of the POW deaths and burials, the extensive commingling, and the limited identification technologies of the time, all of the remains could not be individually identified. The unidentified remains were reburied as unknowns in the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, a permanent American Battle Monuments Commission cemetery in the Philippines.
In 2014, the Secretary of the Army granted permission to exhume the ten graves associated with Cabanatuan Common Grave 717, where Collins was believed to have been buried. The remains were accessioned into the DPAA laboratory on Aug. 28, 2014.
To identify Collins’ remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used forensic identification tools, including mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome Short Tandem Repeat DNA analysis, which matched the DNA samples provided by two cousins and a half-brother; anthropological analysis; as well as historical and circumstantial evidence.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war.
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 or call (703) 699-1420.