When the genealogist first contacted him with a seemingly odd request, Jay Musson was skeptical.
He needed a moment to determine whether the letter was legit or, as he jokes, “from a Nigerian prince promising to include me in his will for a small sum.”
But the writer was the real deal, a case manager from the American History Co. working for the Department of the Army.
She was attempting to locate relatives of a World War II U.S. Army Air Forces pilot who was captured during the fall of the Philippines, sent on the Bataan Death March and died of malaria in a POW camp in 1942.
Upon his death, the pilot, Second Lt. Ralph I. Musson, was tossed in a common grave by his captors at the notorious Cabanatuan Prison Camp No. 1 on Luzon.
Nearly 78 years later, the U.S. government is sorting through the remains excavated from the camp, attempting to identify every American — and give them all proper burials.
The genealogist wanted to find out whether, as she suspected, Akron’s Jay Musson is the first cousin, twice removed, of the pilot, who grew up in Massachusetts.
He is, and he agreed to submit to a DNA test in the hope that his ancestor’s bones could be identified.