The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that Army Cpl. Ralph L. Bennett, 22, of Ames, Iowa, killed during World War II, was accounted for on April 29, 2019.
This identification was initially published on May 1, 2019.)
In June 1944, Bennett was a member of Headquarters Company, 209th Engineer Combat Battalion, as an engineer in the China-Burma-India Theater. On June 13, 1944, Bennett’s battalion fought in the siege of Myitkyina, Burma, after successfully taking the airfield west of Myitkyina from Japanese control. Bennett was reported to have been killed during the battle.
The remains of servicemen killed during the battle were buried in at least eight different temporary cemeteries and numerous isolated burial locations. Eventually, all known burials were concentrated into the U.S. Military Cemetery at Myitkyina, including the remains of those who were not identified. In January and February 1946, all of the remains at the U.S. Military Cemetery were disinterred and transferred to the U.S. Military Cemetery at Kalaikunda, India. The exhumation of the U.S. Military Cemetery at Kalaikunda was conducted in September and October 1947.
One set of remains, designated Unknown X-48 Kalaikunda, was reportedly disinterred on Oct. 21, 1947 and transferred to Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, where they were unable to be identified. They were subsequently buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu, in March 1949.
On July 16, 2018, DPAA disinterred Unknown X-48 Kalaikunda from the Punchbowl and accessioned the remains into the laboratory.
To identify Bennett’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence. Additionally, the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.
DPAA is grateful to the Department of Veterans Affairs for their partnership in this recovery.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 72,708 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Bennett’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in Taguig City, Philippines, along with the others missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
Bennett will be buried Aug. 3, 2019, in his hometown.