George Simmons Returns From the Philippines

Posted on June 13th, 2016 by:

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George Simmons Returns From the Philippines:

George G. Simmons grew up in the Big Sky Country of Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. When he was 18 years old he left home and eventually found his way into the US Army.

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Corporal George G. Simmons

The Army assigned Simmons to Battery H, of the 60th Coast Artillery Regiment and sent him to the Philippine island of Corregidor, a tadpole shaped island located at the entrance of Manila Bay.

Usually, assignment to the Philippines was considered to be one of the best duties in the Army, but with a possible war with Japan looming, George Simmons and the men of the 60th Coast Artillery had little time to enjoy the tropical country or the attractions of the capital city of Manila.

On December 8, 1941, the Japanese invaded the Philippines. The under-equipped American and Philippine forces under General Douglas MacArthur fought a desperate but losing battle against a more powerful enemy on the Bataan peninsula, south of Manila.

On April 9, Allied forces on Bataan surrendered and the Japanese turned their full attention to the last remaining American stronghold, the island of Corregidor.

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Aerial view of the island of Corregidor

On May 6, 1942, after a Japanese invasion of the island, the US and Philippine garrison surrendered. Thousands of Allied prisoners of war, including George Simmons were sent to Manila and paraded in front of the Philippine population by their Japanese captors before being transported to the hellish Cabanatuan POW camp were as many as 2,800 prisoners died under brutal conditions. One of those POWs was George Simmons, who was reported to have died on November 19, 1942 and buried in Common Grave 717 at the Cabanatuan Camp #3 Cemetery.

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American Coast Artillery on Corregidor

After WWII, American Graves Registration personnel exhumed the remains of the men who died at the camp, but because of the mass burial, and limited technology of the time, they were unable to individually identify the remains. The men were reburied as unknowns in the American Cemetery in Manila.

In 2014, the Secretary of the Army granted permission to exhume the remains of the unknowns and submit them for DNA testing.

Through a DNA sample from two of George Simmons’ surviving cousins, the government was able to make a positive ID.

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American Forces surrender on Corregidor on May 6, 1942

Now, after nearly eight decades, George Simmons will return to Montana, where he will be given a burial with full military honors at the Corvallis Cemetery on June 18.

Don Thorson, director of the Corvallis Cemetery said George Simmons will be buried beside his mother and father.

“Fortuitously, his parents bought an extra grave,” Thorson said. “I presume they had hopes that some day, some way, he would come home.”

For more information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans MIA’s, visit the DPAA website at or call 703-699-1420.

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