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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Missing in Action

Wisconsin's Missing

Wisconsin Missing By Home Town
Of the over 82,000 missing in action American service members unaccounted for as the result of conflicts spanning from the attacks on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States into the Second World War on December 7th, 1941 to the present, over 1,500 are from the state of Wisconsin. 

Of Wisconsin's missing, approximately 1,300 were lost during WWII, over 160 were lost in the Korean War, 26 are missing from the Vietnam War (potentially including spillover action in neighboring Laos and/or Cambodia), and one service member is missing as the result of other Cold War-era operations. 

As illustrated on the map above, Wisconsin's MIA service members came from every corner within the state's boundaries-rural, suburban, and urban alike. Every community within Wisconsin has MIA service members that once called their respective townships, towns, cities, tribal regions, counties, routes, and islands home. 

To identify a few specific contexts and cases: 

Included in the missing are members of the US Army's 192nd Tank Battalion-constituent to which was a former Wisconsin National Guard company partially comprised of 99 soldiers from Janesville and the surrounding area. The unit surrendered to the Japanese after fighting across parts of the Philippine island of Luzon in spring of 1942, subsequently forced into the infamous Bataan Death March, and imprisoned at locations such as Cabanatuan (where many died due to disease, malnourishment, neglect, or brutality) before being loaded onto Japanese "hell ships" that transported Allied POWs in appalling conditions to prison camps in mainland Japan, China, Korea, and other territories held by the Imperial Japanese military prior to their surrender at the end of the war. Many of these ships were unmarked and consequently sunk by Allied craft. The group came to be known as the "Janesville 99," and only 35 survived the war. 


Image result for the janesville 99
(Above: about two-thirds of the Janesville 99 survivors)

Dozens of Wisconsinites that were members of the US Army's federalized (again, formerly National Guard) 32nd Infantry Division are also missing as a result of actions at places such as Buna and Sanananda, New Guinea, in late 1942 and early 1943.

These missing also include over a dozen US Coast Guard crewman on the USS Escanaba, which was sunk in the North Atlantic in June of 1943.

The remains of dozens of Wisconsinites lost between 1950 and 1954 remain at or above the 38th Parallel demarcating the Korean DMZ. 
Wisconsin Missing by Loss Location