WWII vet accounted for

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced today U.S. Army Pvt. Leroy M. Slenker, 28, of El Segundo, California, who was captured and died as a prisoner of war during World War II, was accounted for Feb. 3, 2023.

In late 1941, Slenker was a member of the 75th Ordnance Depot Company, when Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands in December. Intense fighting continued until the surrender of the Bataan peninsula on April 9, 1942, and of Corregidor Island on May 6, 1942.

Thousands of U.S. and Filipino service members were captured and interned at POW camps. Slenker was among those reported captured when U.S. forces in Bataan surrendered to the Japanese. They were subjected to the 65-mile Bataan Death March and then held at the Cabanatuan POW camp. More than 2,500 POWs perished in this camp during the war.

According to prison camp and other historical records, Slenker died Nov. 15, 1942, and was buried along with other deceased prisoners in the local Cabanatuan Camp Cemetery in Common Grave 721.

Following the war, American Graves Registration Service personnel exhumed those buried at the Cabanatuan cemetery and relocated the remains to a temporary U.S. military mausoleum near Manila. In 1947, the AGRS examined the remains in an attempt to identify them. Six sets of remains from Common Grave 721 were identified, but the rest were declared unidentifiable. The unidentified remains were buried at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial as Unknowns.

In June 2018, the remains associated with Common Grave 721 were disinterred and sent to the DPAA laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, for analysis.

To identify Slenker’s remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological and dental analysis. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA.

Although interred as an Unknown in MACM, Slenker’s grave was meticulously cared for over the past 70 years by the American Battle Monuments Commission.

Slenker will be buried in Dixon, California on a date yet to be determined.

For family and funeral information, call the Army Casualty Office at (800) 892-2490.