Hoeven Urges DoD Secretary to Honor Servicemembers Who Made The Ultimate Sacrifice in Tokyo Military Prison Fire

BISMARCK, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today joined Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in urging U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to allow the Defense POW-MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) to proceed with disinterment of the servicemembers who died in the 1945 Tokyo military prison fire. Currently, these American servicemembers remain buried at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippians where they are listed as Unknowns. 

In May 1945, 62 American servicemembers, who were being held captive at a Japanese military prison in Tokyo, were killed when the prison caught fire during a bombing raid. Since these servicemembers were originally buried together, DoD policy requires that the DPAA have Family Reference Samples (FRSs) or medical means of identification available for at least 60 percent of the remains before disinterment. Currently, the DPAA has 37 FRSs for the 62 servicemembers, or 59.68 percent.

“The families of these American heroes, who have waited more than 76 years to confirm what happened to their loved ones, are forced to wait on less than one percent,” the senators wrote. “There are no guarantees when the DPAA will reach this threshold, and no guarantee that these gold star families will live long enough to get answers. Now is the time to take action on this case, in order to finally put these men to rest in the country that they died fighting so valiantly for. We appeal to this country’s sense of honor and commitment to do what is right by America’s service members.”

In addition to Hoeven and Rubio, the letter was signed by Senators Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.).

Click here for the letter.