World War II Airman from Virginia accounted for after 77 years

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Posted at 10:13 AM, Mar 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-10 10:14:44-05

WASHINGTON — A World War II soldier from Virginia killed in action has been accounted for over 75 years later, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA).

Army Air Forces Pfc. Edward H. Benson, Jr., 22, of Roanoke, Virginia was accounted for on January 31, 2022, after he was killed during an airstrip raid on March 22, 1945. 39 other service members were killed during the same a Japanese Sorido Airstrip raid. Three of the 40 killed, including Benson, could not be identified or accounted for after the attack.

The American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) was tasked with investigating and recovering missing American personnel in the Pacific Theater after the war ended. Attempts to identify and account for Benson was intertwined with similar attempts identify and account for the three other unidentifiable service members killed in the air raid.

The other three men were conclusively identified after several examinations, misidentifications, burials, exhumations, and re-examinations between 1945 and 1953, but one set of remains was still left to be identified.

The unidentified remains, designated X-188 Finschhafen #3, were buried at Fort William McKinley Cemetery, now known as Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, and Benson was declared non-recoverable.

James H. Benson, Pfc Benson’s son, requested another assessment of the of association between his father and X-188 in May of 2003 to no avail.

Benson’s son reached out to the DPAA shortly after their formation in 2015 in another attempt to move the case forward. X-188 was disinterred in January 2020 and sent to the DPAA Laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, for analysis.

Scientists used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence to identify Benson’s remains.

Benson’s name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Manila, Philippines, along with the others still missing from World War II. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Benson will be buried May 14, 2022, in his hometown.