The bodies of 36 WWII Marines that died a hero’s death in the Battle Of Tarawa in 1943 have been recovered from an isolated island in the Pacific. The remains of these brave soldiers will be brought back to America to be given a proper burial.
Thirty-six U.S Marines, who laid down their lives more than 70 years ago in World War II, will finally be cremated with full military honors, confirmed Mark Noah, director of Florida-based non-profit History Flight Inc., the agency that shouldered the responsibility. He added that that an extensive and painstaking four-month excavation on Betio Island in Kiribati had finally resulted in the discovery of the Marines’ bodies.
The U.S. Marines were killed in action during the bloody Battle of Tarawa in November 1943. Noah and his team worked with the U.S. Defense Department on the recovery efforts. Presumably citing the living descendants, Noah shared that the WWII Marines had an expectation to be brought back to their homeland if they were to perish in the battle,
“(They) had an expectation that if they were to die in the line of duty defending their country they would be brought home… that was a promise made 70 years ago that we felt should be kept.”
Identification of the soldiers is proving quite difficult owing to the relatively rudimentary identification standards of old times. Though U.S. soldiers were better armed than many other armies during WWII, there were no biometric identification techniques prevalent.
Though armed with sketchy records, the team had modern technology to search for and recover the remains. The archaeological team found the mass grave using magnatomatry, radar scans, cadaver dogs, and interviews with surviving veterans of the battle, reported Fox News.
Nonetheless, one of the remains is of 1st Lt. Alexander Bonnyman, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, America’s highest military accolade, for conspicuous gallantry, said Noah,
“Bonnyman’s citation says he led a series of assaults when Marines stormed the island, finally falling when he attacked a bombproof installation that was hampering the advance.”
While Bonnyman was presumed buried at sea, more than 1,000 Americans died at Tarawa. However, these brave soldiers wiped out the entire Japanese garrison of 4,800.
Though the bodies of 36 WWII Marines have been recovered, there are hundreds more who were buried in makeshift, unrecorded graves after the Tarawa battle. The process has just started and the organization will continue to accord a decent burial to these brave Marines, shared Noah.
[Image Credit | Associated Press]