U.S. Army 1st Lt. Myles Esmay ’40 was killed on June 7, 1944, while fighting against Japanese forces in Burma (now Myanmar). He and others were unable to be identified at the time of his death, but in 2021 Esmay was formally identified by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. This allowed Esmay to not only be brought back home to the United States, but also buried alongside his brothers in arms at Arlington National Cemetery. At a public ceremony held at the cemetery on August 1st, relatives and friends attended to celebrate Esmay’s life. Attending the ceremony were Dr. Ruth Chen, University Professor of Practice, and retired U.S. Army COL (Ret.) Ron Novack, executive director of Syracuse’s Office of Veterans and Military Affairs.
Esmay was a Central New York native with roots in the Utica area. He received a scholarship at the New York State College of Forestry originally founded within Syracuse University, and from which he graduated with honors in June 1940. While attending Syracuse he joined ROTC, worked for the school newspaper, and served as the director for the forestry club. After graduation, Esmay served as an infantry engineer in Company B of the 236th Engineer Combat Battalion.
While holding down an airfield being attacked by Japanese combatants, Esmay was killed in action. After the fighting ended, soldiers who gave their lives were buried in at least eight different sites. Known burials were then transferred to the U.S. Military Cemetery at Kalaikunda, India. In the 1947 exhumation of the cemetery, one set of remains were not identified and subsequently buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. Those unidentified remains were noted to belong to Esmay in 2019. Today, Myles Esmay is now buried in honor at Arlington National Cemetery in Section 36.