According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, a soldier who was taken prisoner of war during World War II has been identified.
Pvt. Leroy M. Slenker was a member of the 75th Ordnance Depot Company stationed in the Philippines in late 1941 when he was captured and later died as a prisoner of war.
In December 1941, Japanese forces launched a surprise attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, bringing the United States into World War II. The attack prompted Japan to expand its military operations in the Pacific, including the invasion of the Philippine Islands, which were then a U.S. territory.
The Japanese forces began their assault on the Philippines on December 8, 1941, just hours after the Pearl Harbor attack. The American and Filipino forces stationed there initially put up a fierce resistance, but they were quickly overwhelmed by the superior numbers and firepower of the Japanese troops.
By April 1942, the American and Filipino forces had retreated to the Bataan peninsula, where they continued to resist the Japanese invaders. However, after several months of intense fighting, they were running low on supplies, ammunition, and food. On April 9, 1942, General Edward King, Jr., commander of the Allied forces on the Bataan peninsula, made the difficult decision to surrender to the Japanese.
The surrender of the Allied forces at Bataan was followed by the surrender of the American and Filipino forces on Corregidor Island on May 6, 1942.
Many of these prisoners of war were forced to march 65 miles from the Bataan Peninsula to a prison camp in what is now known as the Bataan Death March, enduring harsh conditions with little food and water. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency did not disclose how Slenker’s identification was made, but the agency has been actively working to identify Americans killed in WWII since the 1970s, conducting excavations and collecting evidence at loss sites each year.
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