WASHINGTON, La. — Unidentified remains of a man who fought in World War II and went missing on Feb. 3, 1943, have been identified and will receive a proper funeral.
Graveside services for Army Pvt. Hillary Soileau will be performed by Sibille Funeral Home, in Opelousas, before being interned at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Washington, La. on May 21.
Soileau was a member of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, when he was wounded Jan. 14, 1943, during a fight on a group of hills nicknamed Galloping Horse. Following the battle, Soileau could not be found. After an extensive search of field hospitals, aid stations, and the battlefield, he was declared missing in action Feb. 3, 1943, at age 23, and was officially declared killed in action Dec. 13, 1945.
Almost three years before the KIA declaration, in 1943, two unidentified bodies from the 27th Infantry Regiment. Those remains were designated Unknown X-50 Guadalcanal and Unknown X-52 Guadalcanal. In Dec. 1947 and Jan. 1948, those buried at Guadalcanal cemeteries were exhumed and transported to Hawaii. Unknown X-52 could not be identified and was then buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.
It was later determined, after thorough historical research, that Unknown X-52 was most likely Soileau. Soileau was accounted for by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency Dec. 8, 2020, after his remains were identified using circumstantial evidence, as well as, dental, anthropological and mitochondrial DNA analysis.
A rosette has been placed next to Soileau’s name on the Walls of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines to show that he has been accounted for.