Nov. 19, 2010


                   GEORGE WILLARD GRISMORE


SALT LAKE CITY — The remains of a United States serviceman missing in action in the remote jungles of Leyte in the Philippines during World War II have been identified and returned to his family on Nov. 13 for burial with full military honors.

U.S. Army Air Forces Capt. George Willard Grismore of Salt Lake City was buried at sea on Wednesday off the coast of California, according to the Department of Defense (DOD).

The DOD’s Hawaii-based POW/Missing Accounting Command says Grismore was aboard a C-47A Skytrain that failed to return to Tanauan Airfield on the island of Leyte on March 12, 1945. He died with five other crew members.

A memorial service was conducted in Salt Lake City to honor his life and service.

Although his remains were discovered in 1989, a positive DNA match was not made until a few weeks ago.

Four of six crew members have been positively identified.

Details of Capt. Grismore’s death only started to come together in the late 1980s after the crash site was discovered.

Human remains were sent to an Army base in Manila and then to Hawaii, where a DNA test was eventually performed.

Grismore’s DNA was matched to his nephew, Salt Lake Tribune journalist Paul Rolly.

Rolly’s mother was Grismore’s sister. She died in the 1970s.

For many years, it was believed the plane crashed in water.

When Grismore’s mother died in 1974, she was buried at sea off the coast of California, by her request, because that’s where she felt closest to her late husband.

The family now knows that the cargo plane, which was carrying gasoline from the island of Mindanao to Filipino underground fighters on the Japanese-occupied island of Leyte, crashed in a dense jungle.

The crash was believed to be weather-related.

It is unclear why the Filipino government would not allow access to the site before 1989.

“There’s probably more remains out there,” George Grismore Jr. told Deseret News. “That’s still a sore spot.”

John Grismore, Capt. Grismore’s brother, is the only surviving relative who knew him.

John was only 12 when his brother died.


George “Billy” Grismore receives the flag that covered his father’s (George Willard Grismore) casket from Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet during a ceremony to commemorate George Willard Grismore on Saturday.  (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

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