Remains of 36 unidentified Marines from WWII battle return
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii (AP) — A group called History Flight recovered the remains of 36 Marines killed from the remote Pacific atoll of Tarawa, one of World War II's bloodiest battles, the U.S. Marine Corps said. A ceremony was held Sunday in Pearl Harbor to mark their return.
History Flight has started identifying the remains, and the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency will complete the effort, the Marines said. The Marines plan to return the remains to their families after they've been identified.
More than 990 U.S. Marines and 30 sailors died during the three-day Battle of Tarawa in 1943. Japanese machine gun fire killed scores of Marines when their boats got stuck on the reef at low tide during the U.S. amphibious assault. Americans who made it to the beach faced brutal hand-to-hand combat.
Only 17 of the 3,500 Japanese troops survived. Of 1,200 Korean slave laborers on the island, just 129 lived.
The U.S. quickly buried the thousands of dead on the tiny atoll. But the graves were soon disturbed as the Navy urgently built a landing strip to prepare for an attack on the next Pacific island on their path to Tokyo.
About 520 U.S. servicemen are still unaccounted for from the battle.
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Posted on Tue, July 28, 2015
by Associated Press