Remains of local WWII soldier, POW identified

John Ferguson
John Ferguson(Provided photo)
Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 4:25 PM CDT
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(25 News Now) - A local soldier who was captured and died as a prisoner of war during World War II has been accounted for.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced Monday that Army Pfc. John L. Ferguson, 20, of Flanagan, was accounted for July 14.

While serving as a member of the 28th Materiel Squadron of the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1941, Ferguson, along with thousands of other U.S. and Filipino service members, were captured by Japanese forces.

With the help of historical prison records, Ferguson is known to have died on December 10, 1942, and was buried in Cabanatuan Camp Cemetery. The remains of those buried there were sent to a U.S. military mausoleum by the American Grave Registration Service (AGRS).

Following the war, American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) personnel exhumed those buried at the Cabanatuan cemetery and relocated the remains to a temporary U.S. military mausoleum near Manila. In 1947, the AGRS examined the remains in an attempt to identify them. Five of the sets of remains from Common Grave 917 were identified, but the rest were declared unidentifiable. The unidentified remains were buried at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial (MACM) on Feb. 15 and 16, 1950, as Unknowns.

In March 2018, the remains associated with Common Grave 917 were disinterred and sent to the DPAA laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, for analysis.

To identify Ferguson’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental, anthropological, and isotope analysis as well as circumstantial evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), Y chromosome DNA (Y-STR), and autosomal DNA (auSTR) analysis.

Although interred as an Unknown in MACM, Ferguson’s grave was meticulously cared for over the past 70 years by the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC).

Ferguson will be buried October 1 in Gridley.