The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that U.S. Army Pvt. Porfirio C. Franco, Jr., 22, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, who was captured and died in captivity during World War II, was accounted for Sept. 10, 2019.
In 1942, Franco was a member of the 200th Coast Artillery Regiment, when Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands. Intense fighting continued until the surrender of the Bataan peninsula on April 9, 1942, and of Corregidor Island on May 6, 1942.
Thousands of U.S. and Filipino service members were captured and interned at POW camps. Franco was among those reported captured after the surrender of Corregidor and held at the Cabanatuan POW camp. More than 2,500 POWs perished in this camp during the war.
According to prison camp and other historical records, Franco died July 18, 1942, and was buried along with other deceased prisoners in the local Cabanatuan Camp Cemetery, in common grave number 312.
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 late 1947, the AGRS examined the remains in an attempt to identify them. Due to the circumstances of the POW deaths and burials, the extensive commingling, and the limited identification technologies of the time, all of the remains could not be individually identified. The unidentified remains were interred as “unknowns” in the present-day Manila American Cemetery and Memorial.
In January 2018, 23 “unknown” remains associated with Common Grave 312 were disinterred and sent to the DPAA laboratory for analysis, including one set, designated X-2841 Manila Cemetery #2.
To identify Franco’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis as well as circumstantial and material evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.
DPAA is grateful to the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) and the United States Army for their partnership in this mission.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 72,648 service members still unaccounted for from World War II with approximately 30,000 assessed as possibly recoverable. Franco’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, an ABMC site along with others missing from WWII. Although interred as an “unknown” in Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Franco’s grave was meticulously cared for over the past 70 years by the ABMC. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
The date and location for Franco’s funeral have yet to be determined. For future funeral information, visit www.dpaa.mil.