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Alabama sailor killed in WWII identified, coming home for burial

By LEE ROOP | Alabama Media Group | Published: February 23, 2019

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Tribune News Service) — An Alabama veteran of World War II is coming home for burial this spring after his remains were identified 74 years after he died in action.

Navy Reserve Seaman 2nd Class Ira N. Slaton of Albertville died July 24, 1944 aboard the USS Colorado off the shore of the Northern Mariana Islands. He was 22.

The Colorado, along with other U.S. ships, had opened fire on the occupied island and took fire from a concealed Japanese shore battery. The first hit on the ship caused an explosion and heavy shrapnel. Four crewmen were declared missing in action and 39 were killed, including Slaton.

Slayton was buried with the other 38 killed in a Marine cemetery on Saipan, but all were disinterred in 1948 to confirm the identifications. Four were reclassified unknown including Slaton, and they were buried again at the Manila American Memorial and Cemetery in the Philippines.

In October, 2017, personnel of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) exhumed “Unknown X-76” and sent the remains to a DPAA laboratory for analysis. Scientists used dental and anthropological evidence, along with other evidence, to make the identification on Sept. 24, 2018.

Slaton will be buried April 6 in Horton, Ala.

The DPAA says almost 72,742 American service members still unaccounted for from World War II. Approximately 26,000 are thought possibly recoverable. More than 400,000 Americans died in the war.

Slaton’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

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