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California soldier died in a WWII prison camp. Now 80 years later, he's coming home

Kaytlyn Leslie, The Sacramento Bee on

Published in News & Features

While serving in the Philippines during World War II, U.S. Army Air Corps Pfc. Glenn Harris was captured, forced to walk in the Bataan Death March and held as a prisoner at a camp more than 7,000 miles away from his home on the Central Coast.

He would never return to California — until now.

Only a few months after his capture, the 26-year-old Monterey County native died and was buried in one of the camp’s mass graves. For years, his body lingered overseas, one of the more than 2,700 people who had been buried at the camp — just under half of whom remained unidentified for decades.

Now, more than 80 years after his death, the fallen soldier is finally coming home.

Thanks to the efforts of the Department of Defense’s POW/MIA Accounting Agency, Harris’s remains were finally identified in July using a combination of DNA and other evidence, according to an agency news release.

Now Harris is expected to be laid to rest in a ceremony at Pleyto Cemetery in Bradley, just north of San Miguel, on Sept. 30. Paso Robles’ Kuehl-Nicolay Funeral Home will perform graveside services preceding the interment.


WWII Central Coast soldier died after Bataan Death March, buried in prison camp

According to the agency, Harris was one of thousands of United States and Filipino service members who were captured and held at prisoner of war camps when United States forces in Bataan fell in the spring of 1942.

Harris was serving in the Air Force’s 93rd Bombardment Squadron, 19th Bombardment Group, when Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands in December 1941. After months of intense fighting, the peninsula was surrendered in April 1942

The captured service members were forced on the 65-mile Bataan Death March, and then held at Cabanatuan Camp #1, which according to the Accounting Agency, “consistently served as the single largest camp for U.S. prisoners for the duration of the war, housing as many as 10,000 prisoners.”


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