The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, unaccounted for since World War II, have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Marine Corps Sgt. John C. Holladay, 31, of Florence, South Carolina, will be buried April 4 in his hometown. In July 1943, Holladay was assigned to Company B, 1st Marine Raider Battalion, 1st Marine Raider Regiment, which fought in a joint U.S. Army-U.S. Marine Corps battle against Japanese positions in Bairoko as part of the invasion of New Georgia Island, British Solomon Islands, near the present-day village of Mbaeroko.
As a result of the battle, 34 U.S. service members were killed, including Holladay, although there is little specific information on the circumstances of his loss. In the days following the battle, U.S. patrols returned to the battlefield to recover their dead. Several Marines were buried in graves in the area, but there was no record of Holladay’s remains being recovered. From November 30 to December 2, 1947, the 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company conducted an intensive area search in an attempt to recover human remains between Bairoko Harbor and Enogai Inlet. However, no remains were found. Holladay was declared non-recoverable.
In 2015, a DPAA investigation team took custody of osseous remains that were unilaterally turned over by a local resident. The resident took the team to the location where the material was discovered and additional remains and evidence were also recovered.
To identify Holladay’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used circumstantial evidence; two types of DNA analysis, including mitochondrial DNA, which matched a maternal cousin, and Y-chromosome Short Tandem Repeat DNA, which matched a paternal nephew; as well as dental comparison and anthropological analysis, which matched his records.
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.