A Missouri World War II soldier’s remains identified 80 years after his death


CASSVILLE, Mo. – The remains of a World War II soldier from Cassville, Missouri have been identified decades after his death at a prisoner of war camp.

John V. Phillips was a member of Headquarters Company, 31st Infantry Regiment when Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands in December of 1941. Intense fighting there continued until the Bataan peninsula and Corregidor Island surrendered in the spring of 1942. Phillips was among thousands of U.S. and Filipino service members who were captured and imprisoned at POW camps after the surrender.

According to prison camp and other historical records, Phillips died on July 27, 1942. He was buried along with other deceased prisoners in the local Cabanatuan Camp Cemetery, in Common Grave 225. More than 2,500 prisoners of war perished in this camp during the war.

After the war, the remains of those service members were exhumed and taken to a temporary U.S. military mausoleum near Manila. The first attempt to identify the deceased soldiers happened in 1947. This was unsuccessful because there was not enough technology. The remains were interred as “unknowns” in Manilla once again.

In 2018, remains associated with Common Grave 225 were disinterred and sent to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, for analysis.

Phillips was accounted for by the DPAA on Dec. 11, 2019, after his remains were identified using circumstantial evidence, as well as, dental, anthropological and mitochondrial DNA analysis.

His name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines, along with others still missing from World War II. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Phillips’ remains will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery on September 13, 2021.

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