World War II Army veteran Clifford H. Strickland.

World War II Army veteran Clifford H. Strickland. (Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency)

DENVER (Tribune News Service) — A missing World War II soldier from Fowler, Colorado, was identified on Dec. 20, 2023, more than 81 years after his death, according to a release from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

Clifford H. Strickland, 25, was a Fifth Grade U.S. Army Technician and member of Company C, 803rd Engineer Battalion when the Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands in December 1941. Thousands of U.S. and Filipino service members were captured when U.S. forces in Baatan surrendered in April 1942.

Prisoners endured the 65-mile Baatan Death March before being held at the Cabanatuan POW camp. Strickland was among those reported captured. According to the release, more than 2,500 POW died in the Cabanatuan camp during WWII.

Historical records report that Strickland died on July 29, 1942 and was buried in Common Grave 215 with other deceased prisoners.

American Graves Registration Service personnel later exhumed those buried at the Cabanatuan cemetery and relocated the remains to a temporary U.S. Military mausoleum near Manila. In 1947, five out of 12 sets of remains from Common Grave 215 were identified. The unidentified remains were buried as unknowns at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial.

In early 2018, the remains from Common Grave 215 were exhumed and sent to the DPAA laboratory. Scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis, circumstantial evidence and mitochondrial DNA analysis from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System to identify Strickland.

Strickland will be buried in Florence on June 29.

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