Remains of World War II soldier to be buried in Mammoth Cave

Thomas F. Brooks, 23, was imprisoned by the Japanese during World War II. More than 80 years...
Thomas F. Brooks, 23, was imprisoned by the Japanese during World War II. More than 80 years have passed since he was last at home, but he will be buried in the Mammoth Cave community in October.(Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency)
Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 1:43 PM EDT
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MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky. (WBKO) - The remains of U.S. Army Pfc. Thomas F. Brooks, a Soldier killed during World War II, will be interred Oct. 1 at Hill Grove Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery in Mammoth Cave.

Patton Funeral Home in Brownsville will perform graveside services preceding the interment.

A native of Mammoth Cave, Brooks was a member of the Company D, 194th Tank Battalion, US Army Forces Far East, when Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands in December 1942.

Intense fighting continued until the surrender of the Bataan peninsula April 9, 1942, and of Corregidor Island May 6, 1942.

Thousands of U.S. and Filipino service members, including Brooks were captured and interned at Prisoner of War camps when U.S. forces in Bataan fell to the Japanese.

The men were subjected to the 65-mile Bataan Death March and then held at the Cabanatuan POW camp, where more than 2,500 POWs perished during the war.

According to prison camp and other historical records, Brooks died Dec. 10, 1942, and was buried along with other deceased prisoners in the local Cabanatuan Camp Cemetery in Common Grave 917.

He was 23 years old.

Following the war, the remains of those buried at the Cabanatuan cemetery were exhumed and relocated to a temporary U.S. military mausoleum near Manila.

In 1947, the remains were examined by the American Graves Registration Service, but only five sets were identified, the rest were buried as unknowns at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial.

The remains were disinterred again in 2018 and sent to a Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency laboratory for analysis.

Brooks was accounted for by the DPAA June 20 after his remains were identified using circumstantial evidence as well as dental, anthropological, and mitochondrial DNA analysis.

Although interred as an unknown in MACM, Brooks’ grave was meticulously cared for over the past 70 years by the American Battle Monuments Commission.