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News Release

Press Release | Aug. 14, 2023

Soldier Accounted for from WWII (Lillard, L.)

WASHINGTON  –  

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that U.S. Army Pfc. Lex L. Lillard, 20, of Tucson, Arizona, who was captured and died as a prisoner of war during World War II, was accounted for May 22, 2023.

In late 1941, Lillard was a member of the Medical Department of Manila and Subic Bays in the Philippines, 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.  Lillard was among those reported captured when U.S. forces in Bataan surrendered to the Japanese. They were subjected to the 65-mile Bataan Death March and then 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, Lillard died July 19, 1942, and was buried along with other deceased prisoners in the local Cabanatuan Camp Cemetery in Common Grave 312.

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. Twelve of the sets of remains from Common Grave 312 were identified, but the rest were declared unidentifiable. The unidentified remains were buried at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial (MACM) as Unknowns.

In January 2018, the remains associated with Common Grave 312 were disinterred and sent to the DPAA laboratory for analysis.

To identify Lillard’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 MACM, Lillard’s grave was meticulously cared for over the past 70 years by the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC).

Lillard will be buried in Jay, Oklahoma, on September 23, 2023.

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.

Lillard’s personnel profile can be viewed at https://dpaa-mil.sites.crmforce.mil/dpaaProfile?id=a0Jt0000000XlYNEA0.