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Remains of World War II Soldier to be Buried in Southeast Kansas


INDEPENDENCE, Kan. (KPR) — The remains of a U.S. soldier killed during World War II will be interred June 2, at Mount Hope Cemetery, Independence, Kansas. Graveside services for Army Air Force Staff Sgt. David E. Holeman will be performed by Webb & Rodrick Chapel in Independence, preceding the interment. A native of Le Harpe, Kansas, Holeman was a member of the 17th Pursuit Squadron, 24th Pursuit Group, when Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands in December 1941. Intense fighting continued until the surrender of the Bataan peninsula April 9, 1942, and of Corregidor Island May 6, 1942.

Holeman was among thousands of U.S. and Filipino service members captured and interned at POW camps when U.S. forces in Bataan surrendered to the Japanese. The men were subjected to the 65-mile Bataan Death March and held at a Prisoner of War Camp where more than 2,500 POWs perished. According to prison camp and other historical records, Holeman died July 19, 1942, and was buried along with other deceased prisoners in the local Cabanatuan Camp Cemetery in Common Grave 312. He was 39 years old.

Following the war, American Graves Registration Service personnel exhumed those buried at the cemetery, relocating the remains to a temporary U.S. military mausoleum near Manila. Twelve sets of remains from Common Grave 312 were identified in 1947 – the rest were declared unidentifiable and buried at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial as unknowns. In early 2018, the remains associated with Common Grave 312 were disinterred and sent to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, for analysis.

Holeman was accounted for August 23, 2022, after his remains were identified using circumstantial evidence as well as anthropological, mitochondrial DNA, Y chromosome DNA and autosomal DNA analysis. Although interred as an unknown at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Holeman’s grave was meticulously cared for over the past 70 years by the American Battle Monuments Commission.

Click here for additional information about Staff Sgt. Holeman.