MIA

Missing in Action can mean a lot of things. In this case, it refers to my Uncle John, the youngest of my Mother’s four brothers. John was 19 years of age when he entered the service in the spring of 1943.

As I have matured (that sounds better than gotten older), there are certain things that I’ve had a serious compulsion to complete. Visiting John’s twenty-one year old brother, Allen’s, grave in Luxembourg was one of those things. Researching if there was anything I could do to help identify my Uncle John’s remains if they were ever recovered was another.

I emailed the US Army at Fort Knox and asked if I could donate DNA for identification purposes and was contacted immediately by a Case Manager with the Past Conflict Repatriations Branch at Fort Knox. As part of the DNA cheek swab submission process, a copy of his personnel file was included in the package.

John Sweet was a Staff Sergeant and the gunner on a ten member crew aboard a B-24. This information I’d known for several years.

However, I was certainly surprised while reading the Battle Casualty Report to learn that during a battle his plane collided with another B-24 from the same squadron over the Gulf of Martaban, Burma. Both planes exploded and their crews fell to their death into the Gulf of Martaban.

He was declared dead on Sunday, October 22, 1944, but according to a document marked sensitive in the file there were also two previous dates of death, 7 March 42, and 4 April 1946. I’m sure that confusion was not comforting to my grandparents, but I cannot even comprehend the number of deaths and the volumes of paper they were processing at that time.

Uncle John is memorialized on the Tablets at the Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines, which is the largest of all the ABMC cemeteries. This cemetery has burial plots for 17,191 Americans and 36,286 listed on the Tablets as missing in action, lost, or buried at sea.

Although this may seem to be an unhappy post on this beautiful Monday in July, it brings me satisfaction that I’ve done everything I can to make sure that if at any point in the future his remains are found he can be buried and recognized for his service. My Grandparents would want it that way.

If you have a loved one that has made the ultimate sacrifice, the personnel file is certainly an insight into their service life. My Uncle John has been gone for over 70 years, but he is not forgotten.

The American Battle Monuments Commission, ABMC, has a website and is on Facebook. They do an amazing job on our behalf of recognizing and respecting individuals who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our Country.

If this topic is of any interest to you, there is a fellow blogger, GP Cox, who has a great site where he reports and reflects on past conflicts – Pacific Paratrooper War Era Information.
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Photo credits: B24 screenshot from the web, map from the Britannica website, Manilla America Cemetery shots from the ABMC website.

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About Judy @ NewEnglandGardenAndThread

Master Gardener who enjoys gardening, quilting, photography, and traveling.
This entry was posted in Family and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to MIA

  1. Good for you, Judy! Thanks for sharing this story.

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Both interesting and moving, Judy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Eliza Waters says:

    The ultimate sacrifice. A good post, Judy. I’d never thought about filing a DNA sample, but glad you posted it. The info may prove useful.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. joey says:

    That’s a wonderful way to honor his memory. I agree, the US does a great job at memorializing. Wonderful share, Judy.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. quilt32 says:

    Very interesting. I’ve been a follower of the Pacific Paratrooper’s posts for many years – wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Joyce says:

    This is beautiful gesture of respect to your uncle. My husband is named after his own uncle (brother of his mother) who was killed on the Indianapolis. His remains were never recovered. It is startling to see the young ages of those soldiers – 19 in John’s case. I’m 69 and still feel like I have much left of life to experience. Sacrifices made in every war require a proper burial at the very least. Some day you’ll meet your uncles in heaven and they will thank you for the loyalty you paid them.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Murphy's Law says:

    Hats off to you, my friend. What a wonderful way to honor and respect your Uncle John, and your grandparents as well. What an important key to his identification when his remains are found.

    But whatever happens, you can count on a joyful reunion in Heaven with your loved ones.

    Very touching post.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. joyroses13 says:

    Oh Judy, what a fulfilling thing for you to set out to do and so glad that your efforrts were rewarded!
    A meaningful that you have shared and great tribute to your Uncle’s memory!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. An interesting commentary on difficult times and task of finding loved ones.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. slfinnell says:

    DNA is changing our advantage to get information at such an astonishing pace. I love your story Judy! I take a bow at your persistence! God Bless 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  11. That is such a wonderful thing your re doing!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Rose says:

    This is really interesting…I just cannot imagine what his parents felt like. And it is just so, so sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Joanne Sisco says:

    Your mom lost 2 brothers in this conflict – John and Allen? Such a painful loss for her and your grandparents. That one is still missing – among so many others – is even worse.
    Kudos to you for continuing to keep their memory alive.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. What a wonderful thing to do, and way to honor your Uncle (s) and Grandparents.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. germac4 says:

    I have always thought ”missing in action” must be one of the hardest words a family can hear, because nothing is really resolved. Well done for uncovering this for your uncle, and family.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. A very moving post about a very brave man. Thank you for keeping these memories alive and sharing them with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Your uncle was a real hero. Thanks for this post and for sharing the links so others may find more information about their loved ones.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Oddment says:

    Death by war is a horror in any circumstance, but the deaths of so many young hit hard indeed. The person in the photo was more boy than man. It doesn’t have to be Memorial Day to remember, and remembering is what we owe them. What a valuable thing you are doing!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. KerryCan says:

    Oh, his beautiful face! So young . . . what a poignant story, Judy, and heartbreaking for your family. I think it’s wonderful that there’s been one small thing you could do that might make a difference . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Laurie Graves says:

    So young! And as Kerry wrote, such a beautiful face. Very moving but how nice to know you have done what you can.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. One face among so many – you’ve written a beautiful tribute to your uncle, Judy. May he rest in peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Fine post, Judy and thoughtful work on your part. Thank you so much for sharing a piece of your families history.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. What a story and amazing amount of work and research on your part. A wonderful tribute.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. reocochran says:

    It is sad when you have a personal connection to someone who died or went missing in action during their military service, Judy.
    You may have helped several people who will read the suggestions and help to locate someone who is missing from their own family. ♥ You did a wonderful service to those families, Judy! 🇺🇸

    Liked by 1 person

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