March 9, 2017 —
U.S. Army Air Forces Pvt. William D. Gruber, unaccounted for from World War II, has now been identified.
On Dec. 8, 1941, Gruber was assigned to the Philippine Department, U.S. Army Forces in the Far East, when Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands. Gruber and his unit cared for those wounded in intense fighting until May 6, 1942, when the U.S. fortress of Corregidor fell, and the Philippines fell under control of Japanese forces. Thousands of U.S. and Filipino service members were taken prisoner; including many who were forced to endure the Bataan Death March, en route to Japanese prisoner of war (POW) camps, including the POW camp at Cabanatuan on the island of Luzon, Philippines. Gruber was among those reported captured after the surrender of Corregidor and who were eventually moved to the Cabanatuan POW camp. More than 2,500 POWs perished in this camp during the remaining years of the war.
In 2016, after the Gruber family had requested the disinterment of remains they believed to be Gruber, the Department of Defense determined that in order to apply its modern identification technologies to the Gruber case and enhance the possibility of identification, two graves associated with Gruber's loss would have to be exhumed.
DNA analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence, were used in his
Interment services are pending.
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