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News Release

Press Release | March 7, 2019

Sailor Accounted For From World War II (Duncan, D.)

WASHINGTON  –   The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that Navy Reserve Seaman 2nd Class Deward W. Duncan, Jr., 19, of Monroe, Georgia, killed during World War II, was accounted for on May 17, 2018.

(This identification was initially announced on Sept. 27, 2018.)

In January 1944, Duncan was assigned to Aviation, Construction, Ordnance, Repair, Navy Fourteen, Standard Landing Craft Unit 4, when a Japanese air raid on Betio Island, Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands, dropped a bomb near his tent. Duncan was killed January 12, 1944 and was reportedly buried the same day in Cemetery #33.

In 1946, the 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company (604th GRC) centralized all of the American remains found on Tarawa to Lone Palm Cemetery for later repatriation; however, almost half of the known casualties were never found. Duncan’s remains were among those not recovered. On Feb. 28, 1949, a military review board declared Duncan’s remains non-recoverable.

In 2017, History Flight, Inc., notified DPAA that they discovered a burial site on Betio Island and recovered the remains of what they believed to be missing American service members who had been buried in Cemetery #33. The remains were turned over to DPAA in 2018.

To identify Duncan’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence.

DPAA is grateful to History Flight, Inc., 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 72,741 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Duncan’s name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others killed or lost in WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

For family information, contact the Navy Service Casualty office at (800) 443-9298.

Duncan will be buried June 8, 2018, in Monroe, Georgia.

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, find us on social media at or call (703) 699-1420/1169.