More Than 80 Years Have Passed Since These Men Died in WWII. Now They’ve Been Identified.
Improved and expanded DNA testing and other analyses have allowed the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) to identify some of the 71,180 service members still unaccounted for from World War II. Recent identifications include:
Navy Mess Attendant First Class Ralph M. Boudreaux, 20, of New Orleans. Boudreaux died December 7, 1941, when the USS Oklahoma capsized during the attack on Pearl Harbor. In 2015, Pentagon researchers exhumed unidentified remains from the Oklahoma that had been interred in Honolulu’s National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl. Boudreaux was identified in July 2021, but the results were not announced until November 2023 after his family was briefed. He was scheduled to be buried in Slidell, Louisiana.
Second Lieutenant Gene F. Walker, 27, of Richmond, Indiana. Assigned to the 32nd Armored Regiment of the 3rd Armored Division, Walker was killed near Hücheln, Germany, in November 1944 when the M4 Sherman tank he commanded was hit by an 88mm anti-tank round. He was scheduled to be buried in San Diego.
U.S. Army Air Forces Staff Sergeant Robert J. Ferris Jr., 20, of Long Island, New York. Assigned to the 91st Bombardment Group, Eighth Air Force, Ferris was aboard the B-17F Danellen on December 20, 1942, when it was hit by antiaircraft fire after a raid on a German aircraft factory at Romilly-sur-Seine, France. Only one airman was able to parachute out. The rest, including Ferris, were lost. Identified with the help of DNA evidence, Ferris was scheduled to be buried in New Bern, North Carolina.
Private First Class Clinton E. Smith Jr., 19, of Wichita Falls, Texas. Assigned to the 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, Smith was killed in an artillery strike on January 14, 1945, in Reipertswiller, France. Pentagon researchers found that remains at the Lorraine American Cemetery in St. Avold, France, might be connected to Smith and used DNA and other evidence to identify him. Smith was scheduled to be buried in San Antonio, Texas.
Private First Class Henry J. McConnell, 28, of Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Assigned to the 2nd Observation Squadron in the Philippines, McConnell died July 26, 1942, in the Japanese prison camp at Cabanatuan, Philippines. He had been taken prisoner after the American forces on Bataan surrendered to the Japanese April 9. He was scheduled to be buried in Pawtucket.
# Good Human Club