BLAIRSTOWN — Nearly 77 years after leaving for a patrol in present-day Papua New Guinea during WWII, Pvt. Laurel W. Ebert is returning home to Iowa.
Ebert, a 27-year-old Blairstown, Iowa native serving with Company I, 126th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Infantry Division, was last seen Nov. 26, 1942 when he and a team of eight other U.S. Soldiers went on a patrol to find and silence an enemy machine gun position in the Cape Killerton area of the Australian Territory of Papua. Ebert and five others failed to return from the mission and were listed Missing in Action (MIA).
In January 1943, the remains of an unidentified American Soldier were interred at the U.S. Temporary Cemetery Sanananda #3. The remains, later designated X-3127, were moved to U.S. Armed Forces Cemetery Finschhafen #2 in 1945, then to the Central Identification Point at the Manila Mausoleum in the Philippines in 1947. Unable to be identified, X-3127 was interred at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial.
Due to new historical investigations and new technology that could link an identification to Unknown X-3127, the remains were disinterred in May 2017 by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA). Dental and anthropological analysis, as well as mitochondrial DNA analysis, were used in the identification of Ebert’s remains in 2019.
Ebert’s military awards and honors include Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Good Conduct Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one Bronze Service Star, World War II Victory Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Combat Infantryman Badge, and Honorable Service Lapel Button-World War II.
A graveside service will be held at the Pleasant Hill Cemetery, 21st Ave., Blairstown, Iowa on Friday, Sept. 20 at approximately 10:45 a.m., with full military honors provided by the Iowa National Guard.
The public is welcome to attend the memorial service.