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Kuentai-USA can’t attend Sept. 12 burial of US soldier whose remains they recovered in Achugao

KUENTAI-USA, a non-governmental organization that has been doing recovery missions on island to find remains of US soldiers who died here during the war, is happy to know that one set of remains they recovered in Achugao last year have already been identified.

Kuentai-USA Expedition leader Yukari Akatsuka told the Variety that they were invited to the burial ceremony for the remains of Bernard Gavrin in Arlington on September 12 but they won’t be able to make it.

“We were invited but, unfortunately, we will be still here on Saipan doing the field investigation for the rest of the MIAs who died on the same day with Gavrin in the same battle,” she said.

Akatsuka said the Kuentai-Japan team recovered Gavrin’s remains in Achugao in August last year.

“It took one year for the Hawaii-based Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command or JPAC to finally identify the soldier,” Akatsuka said.

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office issued a press statement on September 3 to announce that the remains of Army Pfc. Bernard Gavrin, 29, of Brooklyn, N.Y, a U.S. serviceman who had been missing since World War II, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Kuentai-USA volunteers unearth the remains of a possible Japanese soldier during their recovery mission in Achugao last week.  Contributed photoKuentai-USA volunteers unearth the remains of a possible Japanese soldier during their recovery mission in Achugao last week. Contributed photo

Gavrin will be buried on Sep. 12, in Arlington National Cemetery, Washington, D.C. Gavrin was reported missing in action on July 7, 1944, along with 20 other service members of the 27th Infantry Division, 105th Regimen.

Kuentai-Japan also recovered the remains of Army Pvt. William Yawney, 23, of Freemansburg, Pennsylvania on September 2011, and the remains of Army Pfc. Richard L. Bean, 24, from Virginia during their excavation at the same site in July last year. Bean’s remains were identified and accounted for last month. Also earlier identified were the remains of Pfc. William T. Carneal whose burial ceremony the Kuentai-Japan team was able to attend last year.

Akatsuka said the DoD did not recognize the Kuentai-Japan for their efforts in recovering the remains of these soldiers, and just named them as a Japanese non-governmental organization.

“We even told them [DoD] to correct a paragraph which says that it is the archaeological company that found the remains of Bernard Gavrin. They were hired by the Japanese government and just there to monitor the site,” Akatsuka said.

They are happy that these soldiers, in the ground for over 70 years, could be returned home to their families for proper burial.

The Kuenta-USA team of volunteers had been digging to recover more remains of soldiers who died during the war in Pacific battlefields. They are hoping to recover 16 more remains of American soldiers and these include 1Lt Seymour P. Drovis, Pvt. Jackson Griffith, Ssg. Louis,S. Doddo, Sgt. John E. Hurlburt, Pvt. Richard T K Goo, Ssg. James F. Rhodes, Pfc. Carl E. Jung, Sgt. John A. Alois, Pvt. James R. Jackson, Pfc. Walter R. Marchewka, Pfc. Earl W. Mcmahon, Pvt. Edward M. Ryan, Pfc. Robert L. Alexander, Pfc. John J. Baczewski, Pfc. Lewis N. Rockwell, Pvt. Max E. Raulston, and Pfc. Charles E. Dobson.