Defense Department researchers have identified the remains of a 28-year-old Army private who was captured and died as a Prisoner of War during World War II.
Pvt. Leroy M. Slenker, 28, of El Segundo, California served as a member of 75th Ordnance Depot Company in 1941 when Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands in December, according to a release from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
Fighting continued on in April 1942 on the Bataan peninsula and also in May of the same year on Corregidor Island.
Thousands of U.S. and Filipino troops captured by the invading Japanese military were force-marched on a 65-mile course to the Cabanatuan POW camp in what would later be known as the “Bataan Death March.”
Many died during the march. More than 2,500 POWs died at the camp during the war.
Based on prison camp records, Slenker died Nov. 15, 1942, and was buried along with other deceased prisoners in the local Cabanatuan Camp Cemetery in Common Grave 721, according to an agency release.
After the war, American Graves Registration personnel exhumed remains from the camp cemetery and moved them to a temporary mausoleum near Manila, Philippines.
Personnel identified six sets of remains from Common Grave 721 in 1947, but the rest of the remains were not identifiable using methods at the time.
The common grave contents were disinterred in June 2018 and sent to the agency laboratory for further analysis. Researchers were able to identify Slenker’s remains using a combination of anthropological and dental methods.
Slenker will be buried in Dixon, California at a not yet determined date.
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