Coast man killed during World War II officially accounted for

Ladner Photo 2
Pvt. Andrew J. Ladner

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced Thursday that a Harrison County man killed during World War II was accounted for on July 9, 2021.

U.S. Army Pvt. Andrew J. Ladner, 30, of Lizana, Mississippi, was in the military for 14 months when he was killed in action.

He was assigned to the 126th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Infantry Division in 1942. On Nov. 30, his unit was part of the effort to cut off the Japanese supply and communications line coming from their beachhead at Sanananda Village, Territory of Papua, on the island of New Guinea.

Ultimately, the effort was successful as the unit established the blockade, called the Huggin Roadblock, and held for 22 days until relieved by Australian forces. However, Ladner was killed in the initial assault. He was reportedly buried 26 yards west of the road the unit was blockading.

Following the war, the American Graves Registration Service, the organization that searched for and recovered fallen American personnel, conducted exhaustive searches of battle areas and crash sites in New Guinea, concluding their search in late 1948. Investigators could not find any evidence of Ladner. He was declared non-recoverable Jan. 24, 1950.

In April 1943, remains of an unidentified U.S. Soldier, found near the area of the Huggins Roadblock, was buried in a temporary U.S. cemetery in Soputa. Those remains were disinterred and moved two more times until being designated Unknown X-1545 Manila Mausoleum and buried at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines on Oct. 12, 1949.

Between 1995 and 2012, DPAA predecessor organizations recovered three men from the Huggins Roadblock area, but found no trace of Ladner. DPAA historians and anthropologists later conducted a multidisciplinary review of Unknown and casualty files, and recommended disinterment of the Unknowns associated with the campaign to neutralize Japanese positions at Buna and Sanananda. X-1545 was disinterred Nov. 3, 2016 and sent to the DPAA Laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, for examination and analysis.

To identify Ladner’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as material and circumstantial evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.

Ladner’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in the Philippines, along with others still missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Ladner will be buried in Gulfport, Mississippi. The date has yet to be determined.

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