Remains of WWII North Dakota veteran identified 78 years after death in ‘banzai’ attack – InForum
FARGO — Seventy-eight years after an American soldier died in World War II, his remains have been identified by a lab.
Pfc. Robert L. Alexander, 27, of Tolley, North Dakota, fought with the 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Division, and died July 7, 1944, while defending against a “mass suicide or banzai” attack against Saipan in the Mariana Islands, according to a Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency statement released Friday, August 19.
Alexander received Bronze Star and Purple Heart awards, according to the North Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs.
After the end of World War II, the American Graves Registration Service was tasked with investigating and recovering missing American personnel in the Pacific Theater. At the time, they searched for and exhumed remains in Saipan, but could not identify Alexander.
He was declared unrecoverable in September 1949, with his remains – designated as “Unknown X-27 27th Infantry Division Cemetery” – interred in Fort William McKinley Cemetery, now called the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, a US commission battle monuments. site in the Philippines.
In 2019, “Unknown X-27” was exhumed and sent to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, for analysis. Scientists used dental and anthropological scans, as well as circumstantial and material evidence to identify Alexander.
The DPAA lab is the largest skeletal identification lab in the world and has more than 30 forensic anthropologists, archaeologists and odontologists, or those who work with dental remains, according to its website.
Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used DNA analysis to help identify Alexander.
Alexander’s name is on record in court of the missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, and a rosette will be placed next to his name to show he has been found, the DPAA said.
Alexander will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia at a date yet to be determined.