The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of two U.S. servicemen, unaccounted for since World War II, have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors.
Army Pvt. John H. Klopp, 25, of New Orleans, will be buried March 23 in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C. Additionally, group remains representing Klopp and Army Pvt. Earl J. Keating, 28, also of New Orleans, will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery that same day. Keating will be buried May 28 in his hometown.
In December 1942, Klopp and Keating were assigned to the Anti-Tank Company, 126th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Infantry Division, when their unit was involved in an intense engagement with enemy forces along the Soputa-Sanananda Track, which is present-day Papua New Guinea. On Dec. 5, 1942, American forces manned a roadblock position and repulsed a heavy Japanese attack, but sustained heavy casualties. Klopp and Keating died during the fighting and were buried by their fellow soldiers within the American perimeter. The American Graves Registration Service team was unable to locate Klopp’s and Keating’s remains after the war.
In October 2011, an Australian citizen in Papua New Guinea contacted DPAA regarding personal effects that possibly belonged to Klopp and Keating. The Department of Defense surveyed the site and recovered human remains and material evidence that correlated to Klopp and Keating. Additionally, in September 2012, another local citizen turned over more remains and personal effects to a U.S. recovery team.
To identify Klopp’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used circumstantial evidence, mitochondrial DNA analysis, which matched his maternal niece and maternal half-brother, and dental analysis, which matched his medical records.
To identify Keating’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used circumstantial evidence, Y-chromosome Short Tandem Repeat DNA analysis, which matched his nephew, as well as dental analysis, which matched his records.
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) 699-1169.