Discussion in 'Pre-1960's Missing' started by PFF, Jul 29, 2015.
… The body was found on 9 October 1945 at the Moanalua Ridge Separation Center on the northeast side of Pearl Harbor (Hawaii). It was located in a refrigerated compartment of an abandoned galley. The body was removed to the Aiea Naval Hospital where an autopsy was performed by LCdr. S.H. Gray USN (MC) on 11 October 1945.
The examination revealed that the remains were a Caucasian male, 20-22 years of age, 70" in height, weight 165 pounds and having fine, medium brown hair. He was wearing a pair of black "Navy Type" oxfords, size 8F. Fingerprints were taken and sent to the FBI with negative results. There was no indication of trauma. The cause of death was listed as probable asphyxia. There was no way of determining whether this was self-imposed in a state of hysteria, or under the effect of alcohol, or if the body had been placed in the refrigerator by others.
The body was then removed to the Halawa Naval Cemetery and buried in section "O" grave 1818 on 18 October 1945.
On 12 November 1948, the body was disinterred from the Halawa Cemetery and moved to the Schofield Barracks Mausoleum #2 where further attempts to identify the body proved fruitless. The body was later moved the the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu and placed in section "Q" grave 931....
It would appear that this was the body of an enlisted Navy sailor who was awaiting discharge and transportation home at the end of World War II. Obviously a case of murder, since he did not place himself in the refrigerator.
Was he still on active duty? If so, he might be listed as a deserter. If he had already been processed for discharge, he could have been overlooked by the Navy, but certainly missed by his family when he never returned home.
Not necessarily. A decommissioned vessel with an abandoned galley. That would have been a walk-in fridge/freezer on a sea-going vessel. These days safety standards are such that walk-ins must have a door release on the inside, but back then there were no such standards. Even today, we get the occasional story about someone getting trapped inside one of the older models after the door inadvertently closes behind them.
I'd wager it's a death by misadventure having been out 'exploring', sober or intoxicated matters not, the old girl and wandering into the space and having the door shut behind him leading to his eventual suffocation.
Regardless, someone somewhere must have been missing this lad post-war. Surely someone in his family had to be aware he had made it through and was awaiting release from the forces. An exhumation and DNA test would be nice to see in an attempt to have this unidentified gentleman make it home to his family albeit overdue.
Your comments regarding WW II era refrigeration facilities are accurate and good points. However, I don't believe that he was found on board a ship - decommissioned or active.
He was located in an abandoned galley (Navy term for a kitchen or chow hall) at a shore based Separation Center. Whether it was murder or death by misadventure is really not stated in the short write-up.
If LCDR Gray did a thorough autopsy, perhaps more details would be available in his notes and report (assuming they still exist somewhere).
Not much information is available such as reference to other clothing that he was wearing, what he was carrying in his pockets, etc. And where were his dog tags?
It is likely that this young man "fell through the cracks" in the post World War II troop drawdown. Men were being discharged, but had to await homeward transportation - usually on ships. Many found their own way home and were not available for the transport they were assigned to. Others may have chosen to stay in Hawaii for a while.
The tragedy beyond his untimely death is that some where someone may still be waiting for him.
True enough, but even shore based galleys were walk-ins back then. Still are. What leads me to believe it was aboard a decommissioned ship is their use of the term "refrigerated compartment" … that's what we call areas of a ship in the military - "compartments". Possibly, this shore-based Seperation Centre was on the waterfront with a decommissioned vessel tied alongside. It is Pearl Harbour after all.
As a serving member myself, I just want to see him identified and make his way 'home'.
If he was a soldier, wouldn't his fingerprints have identified him?
Back in World War II, fingerprints were not normally taken from enlisted personnel. The same has been true up until fairly recent years. The exception would be if the enlisted member was being considered f0r a higher security clearance, requiring a background check.
Officers ARE fingerprinted as a matter of course when applying for schools leading to a commission. I do not know, however if that was the case in World War II, with the tremendous build up of the armed forces in such a short time.
Photographs were taken for identification purposes by the Navy during World War II, and those paper service records still exist today. A comparison could be made between this unknown man and any potential match. But that would assume that photos of the dead man were taken or that skull x-rays exist for comparison to a given serviceman.
More likely, modern day forensic examiners would use dental charts to make a positive identification, as very good dental charts exist in WW II Navy service records. But again, they would have to have the name of someone suspected of being this young unknown man to make those comparisons.
Here is some interesting history regarding US efforts to locate and identify WW II missing service personnel:
At the war's end, American casualties remained unaccounted for around the globe, some where they had fallen, some in the depths of the oceans, and many in temporary cemeteries scattered throughout the world where battles occurred.
Following the war, the United States (U.S.) Government launched a global initiative called, "The Return of the World War II Dead Program," to locate aircraft crash sites, comb former battlefields for isolated graves, and disinter temporary military cemeteries around the globe. The U.S. Army created the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) to perform this task. Once remains had been recovered, they were transported to Central Identification Laboratories (CIL), where technicians confirmed or established identifications of more than 280,000 individuals. The identified service members were then buried according to the wishes of their next of kin. The program operated from 1945 to 1951, working until all known leads were exhausted. The Army program was a worldwide endeavor employing approximately 13,000 personnel, and costing $163.8 million in wartime dollars.
After the end of the official program for returning the dead of WWII, the U.S. Army Mortuary system continued to recover and identify smaller numbers of WWII service members. These identifications stemmed largely from reports of remains discovered by the citizens of the countries where the casualties occurred. Upon receipt of such a report, a mortuary team would investigate, recover, and identify the remains. As a result, more than 200 additional service men were identified between 1951 and 1976.
After 1976, the task of recovering and identifying the remains of WWII service members fell largely to the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii (CILHI). From 1976 to 2003, that organization sent recovery teams into the field using anthropologists and odontologists to identify an additional 346 individuals. In 2003, CILHI merged with Joint Task Force-Full Accounting (JTF-FA) to form the Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) Accounting Command (JPAC). JPAC accounted for an additional 300 individuals.
In 2003, historians at the Defense Prisoner of War Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) began to develop a comprehensive database of WWII service members whose remains were not recovered or identified after the war. This database was a significant step in creating a comprehensive plan to research WWII missing personnel.
Historians from DPMO were primarily responsible for answering questions from family members about missing service members from World War II until January 2010 and the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2010. Responding to this law, the Department of Defense expanded World War II accounting efforts to more proactive case development. Historians and analysts at DPMO collaborated with JPAC in researching, investigating, and nominating for recovery the cases of U.S. casualties still missing from WWII.
In 2014, the Secretary of Defense directed that DPMO and JPAC, along with the Life Sciences Equipment Laboratory (LSEL), be merged to form the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and reach full operational capability in January 2016.
More at LINK:
Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency > Our Missing > World War II
Here is a link to a website which lists all (or most) service men and women still missing from World War II. You can select a particular branch of the service and it will list them alphabetically.
I do not know, however if it lists persons who went missing after the official surrender of Japan in September 1945. Also, these are likely persons who were considered "Missing in Action", rather than persons who might have gone missing for other reasons: examples would be someone who went on a hike in the continental US and never returned, someone declared a deserter administratively, a murdered person whose body was not recovered, etc. Also, there would be a start and stop date for this listing and missing personnel outside those dates also might not be included.
Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency > Our Missing > World War II > Service Personnel Not Recovered Following WWII
Here is how his grave is listed in the Nationwide Gravesite Locator for Veterans:
137. UNKNOWN, -
DATE OF DEATH: 10/09/1945
BURIED AT: SECTION Q SITE 931
NATIONAL MEMORIAL CEMETERY OF THE PACIFIC
2177 PUOWAINA DRIVE HONOLULU, HI 96813
Nationwide Gravesite Locator - Search Results