Funeral set for recently identified Centralia U.S. Army Sergeant who died after Bataan Death March


On Thursday, May 23, the remains of U.S. Army Sergeant George F. Bishop will finally be laid to rest at Claquato Cemetery.

He died on July 28, 1942, according to a U.S Army Human Resources Command news release, and his remains were recently identified. 

The public is invited to attend his funeral ceremony, which will begin at 1 p.m. at Claquato Cemetery, located at 142 Stearns Road in Chehalis. Funeral arrangements have been made by Newell-Hoerling’s Mortuary and Claquato Cemetery Manager Lacie Jendryka.

Bishop died in a World War II Imperial Japanese Prisoner of War (POW) camp in the Philippines after being forced on the Bataan Death March. He was buried in one of the POW camp’s mass graves. Following the war, his remains were never positively identified and were left at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial as Unknowns.

Following renewed efforts using DNA analysis by the Defence POW/MIA Accounting Agency and scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System, Bishop’s remains were finally identified. Since being notified, his surviving family has been preparing a shadow box for his funeral. They are still looking for a photo of him.

The only remaining mementos they have from Bishop are a Christmas card and a small Filipino doll he sent Stanley Yocom’s mother, who was Bishop’s younger sister, before he was captured and eventually killed.

While no photos have surfaced, Yocom made the shadow box with Bishop’s medals, the Christmas card and doll for the funeral.

Born on Jan. 25, 1920, in Centralia, Bishop enlisted in the U.S. Army on Dec. 29, 1939, just before his 20th birthday.

After getting stationed at Fort Lewis, Bishop deployed and was attached to “K” Battery of the 59th Coast Artillery Regiment at Fort Mills on Corregidor Island, located at the entrance of Manila Bay on the Island of Luzon in the Philippines.   

There, he helped operate fixed seacoast 3-inch artillery guns facing Bataan to the north, along with 30-inch and 60-inch searchlights used to illuminate mine markers in Manila Bay.

On Dec. 22, 1941, Imperial Japanese forces invaded Luzon, and bitter fighting ensued over the next four months until Bataan fell on April 9, 1942, followed by the fall of Fort Mills and Corregidor less than a month later on May 6.

Bishop was officially listed as missing in action the following day. Along with his fellow American and Filipino soldiers, Bishop was forced on the infamous 65-mile Bataan Death March before being sent to the Cabanatuan POW Camp in central Luzon.

Being a POW meant being subjected to inhumane conditions on top of being starved and denied clean drinking water.

It wasn’t long before Bishop contracted diphtheria and dysentery and died in the prison’s hospital on July 28 at the age of 22. He was buried in Cabanatuan’s Common Grave 215.

According to prison hospital records accessed after the Cabanatuan POW Camp was liberated in early 1945, Bishop was one of 22 prisoners who died that day. More than 2,500 American prisoners died at Cabanatuan throughout WWII.

After the Imperial Japanese surrendered and World War II ended, any remains that could be found at Cabanatuan were disinterred by the American Graves Registration Service and brought to a temporary U.S. military mausoleum near Manila to attempt to identify them in 1947.

Five bodies from Common Grave 215 were identified, but the rest were declared unidentifiable and buried at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial as Unknowns.

Bishop’s old U.S. Army Individual Deceased Personnel File stated, “George is most likely buried in the Manila American Cemetery as a ‘Known but to God.’ There are 953 men like Sgt. Bishop who were not identified after the war, ‘Unknowns,’ permanently interred in the Manila American Cemetery from Cabanatuan.”

The grave of the Unknowns at the Manila American Cemetery is cared for by the American Battle Monuments Commission.

While in the Navy himself, Yocom served aboard the U.S.S. Winston Andromeda-class attack cargo ship in 1965, just north of Manila Bay on Luzon.

“I spent a year in Subic Bay in the Philippines, and I didn’t even know he was there,” Yocom previously told The Chronicle.

In 2018, renewed efforts by the Defence POW/MIA Accounting Agency and scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA and y-chromosome DNA analysis to positively identify Unknown remains.

Other surviving family members of Bishop will also be in attendance at the funeral along with Yocom.