AUGUSTA, Maine — The remains of a U.S. Army soldier from Maine, who died in a POW camp in the Philippines during World War II and whose remains had been misidentified, were finally buried with full military honors in Augusta.
On Wednesday, Oct. 23, Army Sgt. Lawrence K. Hanscom was laid to rest at the Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery and was posthumously awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.
Hansom was from Augusta and was only 34 years old when he died of dysentery while being held in a Japanee-operated POW camp in the Philippines on November 19, 1942, according to U.S. Army.
Hanscom was a member of Company E of the 31st Infantry Division.
According to findagrave.com, Hanscom enlisted in the army on April 1, 1940, and was stationed in the Philippines when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and a day later took control of the Philippines on December 8, 1941.
Hanscom survived the Bataan Death March in April 1942, when some 76,000 prisoners of war - 10,000 Americans - were forced by the Japanese military to walk 66 miles. It is estimated that 10,000 men died during the march, the majority of them Filipino.
Along with thousands of other Americans who died of malnutrition and medical neglect in the POW camps, Hanscom died of dysentery while held at the camp at Cabanatuan on the island of Luzon.
Prisoners in the POW camps were forced to dig common graves for the dead but secretly kept track of who was buried where. Hanscom was buried in grave 717 with 12 other American servicemen and one civilian.
What was thought to be Hanscom's remains were returned to Maine and buried in Mount Hope Cemetery in Augusta in 1949. Some of his remains were misidentified, according to the U.S. Army, until 2014 when they were disinterred from Mount Hope and sent to Hawaii for testing. Hanscom's remains were positively identified using mitochondrial DNA as well as circumstantial and material evidence by scientists from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and the Armed Fores Medical Examiner System.
Hanscom's nephew, David Erickson, received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart on Hanscom's behalf on Wednesday.