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Last updateFri, 22 Nov 2019 12am







    Thursday, November 21, 2019-5:04:38A.M.






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Kuentai-USA postpones recovery efforts on Saipan

THE group attempting to recover the remains of American soldiers who went missing in action on Saipan during WWII hit a roadblock and decided to postpone its project.

On its website, Kuentai-USA said that due to lack of funds, “we postponed the project” — referring to recovery of the remains of 16 soldiers.

The remains of five American soldiers had already been recovered and Kuentai-USA, citing 21 recorded MIA’s from the U.S. Army’s 27th Infantry Division, 105th Regiment, believes they could still recover 16 sets of remains.

Kuentai has so far discovered four mass graves and retrieved the remains of 780 Japanese soldiers and those of five American soldiers.

Further, the organization said that while waiting for funds, they would work on a new project, this time, to focus on disinterring remains of “unknowns” from the American Cemetery in Manila.

The group has also announced a partnership with the WFI Research Group which has been focusing on document analysis relating to recovery of those declared MIA.

“It was they who provided us with the information about unknowns buried in the cemeteries in various places,” said Kuentai.

The WFI Research Group, a private research organization, was founded by retired Marine gunnery sergeant Ted Darcy who now has an extensive casualty database.

Former Saipan resident, book author and Vietnam War veteran Bruce Petty previously worked with Darcy in the recovery of the remains of Woody Lackland McVay, and F6F pilot shot down over Saipan in February 1944.

According to WFI, McVay’s remains were autopsied and identified by the U.S. Army and his body was taken to the Philippines to be buried as an unknown.

WFI acknowledged it was through Petty that this error was uncovered.

“It took three years of effort, research, congressional intervention from the Alabama delegations and news reporters that wanted the true story told but we did it,” WFI noted on its website relating to their efforts to recover the remains of Lt. Woodie Lackland McVay which now rest in Mobile, Alabama.

This same group and Kuentai are collaborating to bring the remains of unknowns buried in the American Cemetery in Manila back to their families in the U.S.

An example of this collaboration is the identification of the one unknown previously buried in the Second Marine Division cemetery on Saipan but later moved to Fort McKinley in 1950 in Manila.

These were the remains of Staff Sergeant Richard Joseph Murphy Jr. who was declared missing in action on June 15, 1944, the day the Marines stormed the beaches of Saipan.

According to Kuentai, they were able to track down Murphy’s nephew.

“We were able to find a nephew of the Marine MIA, and went to see him to discuss Project #2,” Kuentai said referring to the project of identifying the unknowns in the American Cemetery in Manila.

Kuentai-USA said that Murphy’s nephew didn’t know that his uncle had been buried in Manila since 1950 and he wanted to retrieve his remains.

According to, there were 78,750 Americans listed as Missing in Action at the end of WWII.