The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that Army Pfc. Juan F. Gutierrez, 26, of Santa Fe, New Mexico, who was captured and died as a prisoner of war during World War II, was accounted for Feb. 24, 2021.
In late 1941, Gutierrez was a member of 200th Coast Artillery Regiment, when Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands in December. Intense fighting continued until the surrender of the Bataan peninsula on April 9, 1942, and of Corregidor Island on May 6, 1942.
Thousands of U.S. and Filipino service members were captured and interned at POW camps. Gutierrez was among those reported captured after the surrender of Corregidor and held at the Cabanatuan POW camp. More than 2,500 POWs perished in this camp during the war.
According to prison camp and other historical records, Gutierrez died Nov. 19, 1942, and was buried along with other deceased prisoners in the local Cabanatuan Camp Cemetery, in Common Grave 717.
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 mausoleum near Manila. In 1947, the AGRS examined the remains in an attempt to identify them. Gutierrez was identified in March that year, though recent discoveries made possible because of technology not available in the 1940s revealed this to be a misidentification.
In August 2014, remains associated with Common Grave 717 were disinterred and sent to the DPAA laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, for analysis.
To identify Gutierrez’s remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis as well as circumstantial evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.
Although interred as an "unknown" in Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Gutierrez’s grave was meticulously cared for over the past 70 years by the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC).
Gutierrez will be buried Dec. 7, 2021, in Oakland, California.
For family and funeral information, contact the Army Casualty Office at (800) 892-2490.
DPAA is grateful to the ABMC and the United States Army for their partnership in this mission.
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 https://www.linkedin.com/company/defense-pow-mia-accounting-agency.
Gutierrez’s personnel profile can be viewed at https://dpaa-mil.sites.crmforce.mil/dpaaProfile?id=a0Jt000002EvibvEAB.