GRIDLEY, Ill. (WCIA) — The remains of a World War II soldier will be interred in Gridley Cemetery on Oct. 1.
A native of Flanagan, U.S. Army Air Forces Pfc. John L. Ferguson was a member of the 28th Materiel Squadron, U.S. Army Air Forces, when Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands in December 1941.
Ferguson was among thousands of U.S. and Filipino service members captured when U.S. forces surrendered to the Japanese in Bataan. The POWs were then subjected to the 65-mile Bataan Death March and held captive at the Cabanatuan POW camp, where more than 2,500 POWs perished during the war.
According to prison camp and other historical records, Ferguson died at age 20 on Dec. 10, 1942. He was then buried with other deceased prisoners in the local Cabanatuan Camp Cemetery in Common Grave 917.
Following the war, the American Graves Registration Service exhumed the remains of those buried at the Cabanatuan cemetery relocated to a temporary U.S. military mausoleum near Manila. Five sets of remains from Common Grave 917 were later identified by the AGRS in 1947. The rest were declared unidentifiable and were buried as Unknowns at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in February 1950.
In March 2018, remains associated with Common Grave 917 were disinterred and sent to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii for analysis.
On July 14, 2022, Ferguson’s remains were identified using circumstantial evidence as well as dental, anthropological, isotope, mitochondrial DNA, Y chromosome DNA, and autosomal DNA analysis.
Graveside services will be performed by Duffy-Baier-Snedecor Funeral Home, preceding the interment.
For additional information about Pfc. Ferguson, visit here.