ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) – A World War II soldier has now been accounted for and will be returning to Roanoke, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA).
The DPAA says Army Air Forces Private 1st Class Edward H. Benson Jr was identified on Jan. 31.
During his service, Benson was assigned to the 1562nd Army Air Force Base Unit on Biak Island, which is now part of the Republic of Indonesia. Then, on March 22, 1945, a Japanese air raid killed Benson and 39 other service members. Sorido Airstrip officials say he was 22 years old. However, Benson was one of three whose remains were not identified.
The DPAA says there were several attempts to identify the three bodies including examinations, misidentification, burials, exhumations, and re-examinations. Officials were able to identify all the remains but one, which was classified under the name X-188 Finschafen #3.
Those remains were buried at Fort William McKinley Cemetery, also known as Manila American Cemetery and Memorial located in the Philippines, until May 2003, when Benson’s son, Dr. James H. Benson, asked the DPAA to re-examine X-188. After several attempts for another assessment, Benson was able to have the remains sent to the DPAA Laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickman in Hawaii for analysis in January 2020.
DPAA Scientists used dental, anthropological, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), and autosomal DNA (auSTR) analysis to identify X-188. On Jan. 31, DPAA was able to identify X-188 as the remains of Benson.
Benson’s name will soon have a rosette placed next to it to signify he has been found. Army officials say his name is on the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, which is located in Manila, Philippines at the American Battle Monuments Commission site. His name joins others who still remain missing from WWII.
On May 14, Benson will be laid to rest at the Evergreen Burial Park. Oakey’s Funeral Home of Roanoke will perform the graveside services.