New Clue in 70-Year-Old Mystery: Dog Tags
Japanese group uncovers those belonging to US soldier missing since 1944
By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 21, 2014 8:26 AM CDT
A stock image of dog tags.   (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed)

(Newser) – It's a clue uncovered in a cave on a Pacific Island, and an 81-year-old Florida man believes it may put an end to a World War II mystery that's troubled him for some 70 years: the fate of his uncle, Army Private Bernard Gavrin, who was declared MIA in 1944. David Rogers tells the Sun Sentinel that he can still recall hearing his grandmother scream as she read the telegram informing the family that Gavrin had gone missing during the battle of Saipan, sometime between June 15 and July 9. There were no further details, only speculation on the family's part: that he drowned while being pushed into the ocean, or was a victim of a Japanese suicide attack.

And there hadn't been any details since, until a former enemy offered some unlikely help. Japan's Kuentai Group is attempting to find some 1 million missing Japanese soldiers, and they found mass graves in Saipan's caves. One contained US remains—and Gavrin's dog tags. The information imprinted on them led the group to a Virginia library, and public records then led to his surviving relatives; Rogers says he's the "only living relative to have known my Uncle Bernie." The unearthing of the dog tags resulted in Gavrin being awarded seven new awards in addition to his Purple Heart. Genetic testing is under way on the remains; it may take a year to determine whether Gavrin's are among them. (More WWII remains in the news: 21 families are fighting for four caskets interred at a Hawaiian cemetery to be dug up.)

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Showing 3 of 8 comments
May 1, 2014 10:13 AM CDT
I like your little story Farmer dude. Real shame it is made up bs.
Apr 22, 2014 1:07 PM CDT
It is my fervent hope that the authorities will be able to identify the remains. For the last of his family to know what become of the courageous man, is a blessing in disguise. My condolences to the family. May the Honorable Private rest in peace.
Apr 21, 2014 4:05 PM CDT
Is it just me, or is this piling on a "awards" when some one is dead just a little gross? The unit I was in had orders to do a mission that was plain against everything we followed and our standing orders. I pulled our "hero" who had over 100 mission just a couple thousand feet in the air getting pictures of hot zones. (The Air Force didn't "do" hot zones below 3,500 feet in Viet Nam and clouds were usually about 3,000 feet, so surplus Korean piper cubs and 400 mm cameras were us in Army Intelligence for spot missions a Mohawk couldn't fly..) A kid fresh in the unit "volunteered" and was in a grey bag by the end of the day by some Cambodian with a blunderbuss full of nails fired into the air. That kid got more and higher awards than the whole group that had worked danger for a year for doing what we all knew was against the rules of engagement. Come now. (No officer that was anywhere near that mission could look us in the eye for the duration.) If the truth were known about many of the awards to folks who died, there would be a lot fewer wars.