Friday Forum – Maureen Justiniano

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206 Ingraham Hall
@ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

“Bones of Contention: The Philippine Scouts and
the Accounting for their Missing from World War II”

Tablets of the Missing” at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in Fort Bonifacio, Philippines (Photo by Maureen Justiniano, Sept 2018)

Dr. Maureen Justiniano
WWII Historian (SNA International),
Supporting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA)

The Philippine Scouts, despite serving as both American colonial agents of pacification in the early 20th C Philippines and then later, a formidable U.S. Army elite ground force in the Pacific Theater during World War II, are often relegated to a mere footnote in the annals of modern U.S. history. The lack of understanding of the complex history and nature of this multifaceted organization has deprived these individuals of the recognition they deserved and their proper place in history, which is why it is more crucial than ever to focus on the accounting for their missing. However, such noble mission poses unique challenges that this paper will strive to address.

To appreciate the complexity of such endeavor and why the accounting for the missing Philippine Scouts is such a unique case, this paper first examines their background, particularly, their induction into the U.S. Army. Notably, this distinction placed the Philippine Scouts in a unique position during and after the war, when accounting efforts for the missing were well underway. The usual challenges of post-war recovery operations in the Philippines, such as loss of burial records and the destruction of graves owing to indiscriminate enemy bombings, are compounded by the incomplete records not only of those enlisted men who served in the Philippine Scouts but also in the Philippine Army, and the haphazard investigations by the American Graves Registration Services (AGRS), resulting in paucity of information. These challenges, along with the difficulty of finding and collecting DNA family reference samples, only make present-day accounting effort for missing Philippine Scouts a more daunting task to undertake.

Dr. Maureen Justiniano is a Senior Historian for SNA International supporting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA). Her current work with DPAA focuses on the identification and recovery of unaccounted remains of WWII US personnel in the Philippines, particularly losses on the island fortress of Corregidor, the two ‘death march’ (Bataan and Mindanao) cases as well as Japanese ‘hellship’ cases. She is also working on the case of Brigadier General Guy Fort, the highest ranking US officer to be executed by the Japanese in the Pacific Theater of World War II.

She received her doctoral degree in Southeast Asian History (specializing in 19th and early 20th century Philippines, with a focus on urban revolutions and state repressions during colonial times) in 2016 and a master’s degree in Southeast Asian Studies in 2009 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also has a master’s degree in Modern European History (specializing in modern German history) from the University of Manitoba and University of Winnipeg’s Joint-Masters programme in Manitoba, Canada. Prior to pursuing further graduate studies in the US, she was a historical research associate at Public History Inc., and was closely involved in gathering evidence for the largest class-action lawsuit in the country’s history concerning Indigenous residential schools across Canada.