After decades as an ‘unknown,’ WWII soldier from Utah is identified

Oct 26, 2023, 9:00 PM | Updated: Oct 27, 2023, 2:51 pm

Images of U.S. Army Air Force Pvt. Doyle Wayne Sexton, of Duchesne, Utah, who died in a POW camp du...

Images of U.S. Army Air Force Pvt. Doyle Wayne Sexton, of Duchesne, Utah, who died in a POW camp during WWII and whose remains were only recently officially identified. (Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency)

(Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency)

SALT LAKE CITY — A World War II soldier from Duchesne, Utah, has finally, officially, been found. 

The family said that U.S. Army Air Force Pvt. Doyle W. Sexton was accounted for in mid-June, 2023. Today, after a full briefing on his identification, his family said they’re ready to tell his story.

A prisoner of war

Sexton was a member of the Headquarters Squadron, 19th Bombardment Group in late 1942 according to a press release from the U.S. Defense Department. Sexton is believed to have been among the thousands of U.S. and Filipino service members captured and then interred in prisoner-of-war camps. 

Specifically, Sexton is believed to have been captured when U.S. forces in Bataan surrendered to the Japanese. He is also believed to have been subjected to the Bataan death march, a 65-mile march through the heat and tropical conditions of the Philippines

According to the Defense Department, Sexton was held at the Cabanatuan POW camp where more than 2,500 POWs died.

It was at the Cabanatuan Camp Cemetery that Sexton was buried when he died in captivity on July 19, 1942.

Identifying Pvt. Sexton

Identifying Pvt. Doyle W. Sexton took the next 66 years and multiple advances in forensic technology. Initially, his remains were taken to a temporary U.S. military mausoleum near Manila for The American Graves Registration Service to identify.  

But he was among the remains that could not be identified at that time. They were then buried as ‘unknown’ at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial.

Finally, in 2018, the remains were sent for modern analysis. 

“Scientists used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence,” the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said in a press release. “Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y-chromosome DNA (Y-STR) analysis” to determine Sexton’s identity.

He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery at a future date.

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After decades as an ‘unknown,’ WWII soldier from Utah is identified