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#1 captaxe

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 01:07 PM

(My sincere apologies for the typo in the title- s/b NAVY)

St. Petersburg Times, 11/25/2008



The Marines quickly buried their dead after the 1943 battle for Tarawa, one of the bloodiest fights against the Japanese in World War II.

Then the bulldozers came to build runways. Markers were lost. In 1946, the military went back to find those graves on the Pacific atoll.

They couldn't locate half of them.

But on Monday, a nonprofit group with headquarters in the Florida Keys announced that it had helped locate the graves of 139 missing Marines and sailors whose remains had long been presumed lost.

The group, History Flight, based in Marathon, worked with WFI Research Group in Fall River, Mass., to confirm the location of the remains in eight burial pits on the tiny atoll, 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii.

The discovery is described by the groups as the largest ever of MIA remains from any American war. The military could not confirm this.

"This is an incredible find," said Donald Allen, an Ohio author who wrote a book, Tarawa — the Aftermath, about the battle. He is not affiliated with WFI or History Flight.

"These were somebody's sons, brothers, fathers. It's extraordinarily meaningful to know where they are," he said.

History Flight, which has not removed or disturbed the remains, said it will notify the Marines and the Department of Defense, which is expected to recover and attempt to positively identify the bodies.

All are presumed to be those of Americans, given the location and manner of burial, History Flight said.

History Flight said 541 troops were eventually listed as missing after the three-day battle in November 1943, one in a series of ever-bloodier fights leading to the doorstep of Japan. Most who died on the atoll were Marines.

More than 1,600 Americans were killed in the battle. Of 4,500 Japanese defenders on Tarawa, just 17 survived.

Tracing the history of those missing troops has proven a complicated journey. It began in 1992, when WFI founder Ted Darcy, a Marine veteran who served 20 years ending in 1989, started research.

"There's no closure until that body comes back," Darcy said.

When the troops were buried in 1943, most were undoubtedly identified by the military, History Flight said. The graves were marked with the expectation that after the war the bodies might be recovered and sent home.

But war construction on the atoll, including air strips, covered many of the burials. After the war, the Army tried to locate the bodies.

But only 49 percent of the known bodies were found.

"They lost the bodies," said Mark Noah, executive director of History Flight, which operates a flight museum and works on identifying lost military personnel. "These Marines, each of them was somebody's son. They all perished and were left behind. And their families were fed the fiction that they were missing in action."

Capt. Mary Olsen, a spokeswoman for the Pentagon's POW/MIA office in Washington, said she had no information about History Flight's work and could not comment on the disposition of bodies on Tarawa.

During World War II, the Marines recorded where bodies were buried and created rosters identifying many of the dead.

But overwhelmed by the need to find 72,000 missing troops after the war, the military didn't do enough research to locate the dead and quickly abandoned the effort, Noah said.

"The war was over and people wanted to move on," Noah said. "The records pertaining to the burials were kept classified until the 1970s. By then, most of the Marines' parents were dead."

History Flight said it spent $88,000 to locate the graves using the military's own records. It then confirmed the number of dead using ground-penetrating radar this month and in October. The graves have not been disturbed, Noah said.

He said funding was provided by Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion, among other groups.

Given the roster of the burials, Noah is confident that the military will ultimately identify many of the remains. Confirmation may be made using DNA matches with relatives.

Noah said most of the remains will be recoverable, even if they are buried under residential areas where people don't realize they live atop graves.

In fact, through the years, a few of the remains have been unearthed by residents digging sewer lines or even tending gardens.

Darcy, the Marine veteran who began the search for the remains 16 years ago, said he is still in touch with families who want to know what happened to missing kin. None could be reached for comment on Monday.

"In the Marines we were taught … to never leave any man behind," Darcy said.

Edited by captaxe, 29 November 2008 - 01:11 PM.


#2 Popo367

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 04:05 PM

I don't know if this is the same article I read.........I think they have locations for approx 139 bodies. Hopefully they find all of them and more.....they need to come home.n Rest in Peace

#3 captaxe

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 04:54 PM

Yes; indeed it is. They did mention the 139 bodies in the title of the article, which I indavertently cut out.

#4 MWalsh

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 02:54 PM

I find this article a bit incredible to believe... especially so in light of the fact that the Defense Department says they know nothing about it.

I mean come on... the U.S. military simply coraled and paved over the graves of 139 Marines who were KIA on Tarawa when building an airfield? From what I have read, the Marine Corps (and Army, and Navy too for that matter) were pretty meticulous about recovering dead. Maybe not so good about always identifying them, but certainly good about recovering them, and then carefully plotting their burial locations, marking them with crosses, etc etc etc.

Yes, I know that the U.S. Government has at times done dumb things and terrible things, but I just have a tough time believing this story.

Is it very possible that they have discovered the mass grave of 139 Japanese whom Marine pitched into a hole and then bulldozed over? Yes, very much so. But that of Marines, from an island we took and held????

I doubt it...

MW

#5 Brig

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 03:49 PM

this is a great chapter for our country and Corps. Let's bring our boys home like we promised them all those years ago

#6 bobgee

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 06:00 PM

I'm with Mike Walsh on this. Don't be misled by this highly emotional but unsubstantiated B.S.

After WWII the search for missing GIs was of the highest priority and was carried out in all theaters of war. These efforts are carried on to this very day and for all the wars that followed. Many casualties of a Naval and Air warfare simply disapeared as their ships sunk and their aircraft exploded and they were blown apart. Soldiers and Marines who died ashore were often buried in hastily prepared graves but whenever possible the grid coorinates were taken and reported. American dead were collected, identified where possible and buried in a central cemetery in the area. In about 1948, Next of Kin were given the choice of bringing their loved ones home or leaving them where they fought and died, alongside their buddies. No American dead were left in an enemy land. There are no U.S. Military Cemeteries or known U.S. graves in Germany or Japan.

Purple_Heart.jpg

In 1992 I acquired a Purple Heart medal awarded to the mother of Pvt. Glen B. Pierce, an 18 year old Texan who, while serving as a rifleman in E-2-2 was killed on Nov 20th 1943. He was killed as his company assaulted Red Beach 2 at H-Hour on D-Day, east of the Long Pier. The exact circumstances of his death are unknown though it is known that his company, E/2/2, was decimated by enemy fire while landing from LVTs on Red Beach 2. All but one of the six ‘E’ company officers were killed. Within 30 minutes of landing, 2/2's three rifle companies had suffered more than 30 percent casualties with more than half the of the battalion’s infantry company officers dead or wounded, and LtCol Herb Amey, the Bn C.O. killed. It is assumed that Pvt. Pierce was killed here.
Pierce_8.jpg

At Tarawa between Nov 20th and Nov 26th, 1943 984 Marines and Sailors died in the assault on Betio (Tarawa) Atoll, in the Marshall Islands. Those dead ashore were buried in numerous cemeteries around the island and their locations were recorded. Others evacuated to ships offshore who died were buried at sea. Pvt. Pierce was buried after the battlein Cemetary No. 11. In 1949, in a report made by HQ, American Graves Registration Service (Pacific Zone), APO 958, in Board Proceedings Memo 1479, the following is stated: "c. All of the original n burial sites on Tarawa Atoll werte disinterred in 1946 and concentrated in the Lone Palm Cemetary, Betio Island, Tarawa, at which time the remains of subject decedent could not be identified. In 1948 all unidentified remains from the Lone Palm Cemetary were examined at the CIL. Dental and physical characteristics of the above-named individual (Pierce) were compared with all unknowns from Tarawa with negative results." Remember, this was way before anything like DNA comparisons.

There is famous and sad photograph taken after the battle, showing dead Marines piled at the shoreline with the long bridge in the background. I believe this to be a photo of "E"/2/2 Marines. The listing of unidentified LonePalm Cemetery Remains totals 100. Where the 139 figure comes from is unknown. The absence of any official comment from the Government concerning these 139 men suggests that this story has no basis. I'll be very surprised if 139 long lost dead Marines are found on Tarawa. Copies of some official 'period' correspondence on the recovery of dead from Tarawa follows.
Semper Fi......Bobgee

Edited by bobgee, 30 November 2008 - 06:08 PM.


#7 bobgee

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 06:10 PM

These are a few of the Official Documents on the subject I have in my file on Pvt Pierce. Bobgee

Pierce_2.jpg Pierce_3.jpg

Pierce_5.jpg

#8 KASTAUFFER

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 07:46 PM

I know the guy ( Ted Darcy ) who has been working on this and he does have a list of names of Marines who were initially interred on Tarawa , but couldnt be found after the war was over. I am not making a judgement call for why some locations were lost, but they were. My father-in-law works with Ted on the identification of WWII un-knowns and both have been very succesful. If you want to see my Father-in-law's successes, type " Ray Emory" and " Pearl Harbor" into google and see what pops up. If you type in " Ted Darcy" you will see the work he has done.

Personally I am going to wait to see what the DNA says before I discount the story. I have gone through too many 293 files with my Father-in-Law to not believe some remains could have been missed.

I have a hard time believing the DOD didnt know anything about this. I have known of Ted's research and work concerning Tarawa for at least the past 3 years. I know he works closely with them.

Kurt

Edited by KASTAUFFER, 30 November 2008 - 07:50 PM.


#9 MWalsh

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 08:15 PM

Interesting Kurt!

I have read about your father-in-law's work before and am familiar with the outstanding research and efforts he has done and made. I just did a quick search on Mr. Darcy, here is a link to an interesting interview he did:

http://www.pacificwr...arcy/index.html

I look at the total numbers of KIA's from Tawara and still find it just almost fantastic that the graves of somewhere between 10% and 15% of the KIA's from that battle would be "lost", ignored, or have an airstrip built over them. Short of a typhoon or something that erased the evidence of where they were buried, it just seems to be too much to have happened on a tiny island that the US owned when the fighting ended. I suppose if that airfield HAD to be built and readied for immediate use and there was no alternative, then maybe. But jeez, with the always early surveying of islands for landing strip locations, for work needed to be done by Seabees, etc, it seems odd that on a small island like Betio that there would have been multiple initial burial sites at all, and that if there were, that someone wouldn't have seen that one of them was on an airstrip location...

But on the other hand... after reading some of what he stated in his interview that I posted the link for, I may have spoken to soon in my original post on this. I guess time will tell. I sincerely hope not, as I would personally be pretty disappointed to know that the Marine Corps and the Army ever allowed something like that to happen and then did not correct it.

Mike

#10 gwb123

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 08:23 PM

"I have a hard time believing the DOD didnt know anything about this. I have known of Ted's research and work concerning Tarawa for at least the past 3 years. I know he works closely with them. "

What the DoD knows about, and what they will comment on in public have always been two different things.

#11 bobgee

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 06:59 AM

Howdy - Kurt. You know I have the highest regard for your knowledge and research ability and have had for many years. I also believe that every effort should be made to identify the remains of any American soldier lost in battle and bring them home to their families. But in spite of those feelings, reading the articles that come up on a Google Search on this subject , it's clear that most of the "reporting" is the result of a Press Release from the folks who have a vested interest in what should be a noble cause. They are clearly fund-raising and using an emotional jab at the military and the government to do it. They claim they have "FOUND" the burial sites of 139 Americans on Tarawa but "have not disturbed them." Just reported them. The POW/MIA Section at the Pentagon says they have no information on the discovery. Tarawa is now part of the Republic of Kiribati. It's their land. If they were inclined to disinter these burial sites, they would be the ones to start it and then call in the U.S. Government when U.S. remains were found. Mr. Noah's release does mention that they have FOUND the burial site of 1/Lt Alexander Bonnyman USMC, a posthumous MOH recipient. How did they do that?????

We should be talking about Tarawa burials ashore, on the island, which should not exceed the 984 Marines & Sailors who died there. Mr. Darcy mentions 1,670 American dead and states that 49% of them are MIA. That is a very misleading number since, as I mentioned, we should be talking about the island burials, not those men lost at sea and in the air around the battle area. In 1949 the Graves Registration Service reported 101 unidentified remains in the Lone Palm Cemetery, among those who had been disinterred and reburied there. I have always assumed that Pvt. Pierce, mentioned above, was one of those. BTW - what of the approximately 4500 Japanese who died? Have their burial sites been identified? I wonder......

I'm still one of those guys that has faith in the government, until the government is proven to have screwed up. Is it possible that some bored C.B. on a bulldozer in 1944 didn't pay attention and covered a burial site with asphalt? Sure, it's possible but I think unlikely. I feel that this sad subject of Tarawa MIAs is being sensationalized by besmirching the government to raise funds to increase the work of what started out as a noble cause. As you know, the Aircraft Wreck Recovery business is a lucrative but expensive hobby or calling, but one that can pay great returns.. I'm going to wait for these folks to "show me the bodies - all 139 Marines and Sailors" they claim to have "FOUND".
Respectfully AND Semper Fi.....Bob

#12 bobgee

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 08:03 AM

Pvt. Glen B. Pierce, an 18 year old Texan who, while serving as a rifleman in E-2-2 was killed on Nov 20th 1943. He was killed as his company assaulted Red Beach 2 at H-Hour on D-Day, east of the Long Pier. The exact circumstances of his death are unknown though it is known that his company, E/2/2, was decimated by enemy fire while landing from LVTs on Red Beach 2. All but one of the six ‘E’ company officers were killed. Within 30 minutes of landing, 2/2's three rifle companies had suffered more than 30 percent casualties with more than half the of the battalion’s infantry company officers dead or wounded, and LtCol Herb Amey, the Bn C.O. killed. It is assumed that Pvt. Pierce was killed here.

I found the following very sad picture on the Tampa Frontpage which had the story of the 139 FOUND remains. This is, I believe, the Marines of E/2/2. It shows the ferocity of the fight. Keep in mind that this was taken about 3 days after the landing. Semper Fi.....Bobgee

a4s_tarawa112508_47152c.jpg

#13 917601

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Posted 09 April 2019 - 01:30 PM

As an Honor Guard member, each remains has a story to tell. I pursue those stories, sometimes the escort will add information that they are not authorized to give, but most information is " second hand", word of mouth. My question as we have been told to expect about 40 more passing through Atlanta, is the " rumor" that some are from mass grave sites? We were told a few were uncovered while building a parking lot. This Marine was recovered from under a house.

"funerals are the result of work by the Defense Department and the nonprofit Florida research group History Flight, which have recovered scores of lost or unknown remains from the battlefield and a cemetery in Hawaii in the past two years.

More than 1,000 Marines were killed in the multi-day battle in late November 1943 in the amphibious landing on Betio Island in the Tarawa Atoll, 2,400 miles southwest of Hawaii.

Most were buried on the island in dozens of scattered plots. But after the war, some of the plots could not be found, and the bodies of hundreds of Marines were never located and brought home, according to History Flight.

The bodies of other Marines were found after the battle but could not be identified. They were eventually reburied in a cemetery in Hawaii, known as the Punchbowl, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA).

Last year and earlier this year, the Pentagon, spurred by scientific advances in identification processes, exhumed all 94 Tarawa caskets from the Punchbowl to try to identify those within.

[75 years after Pearl Harbor, the USS Oklahomas dead are being identified]

In 2015, History Fight said it had recovered and subsequently turned over to the Pentagon 35 sets of remains found in a lost burial plot on Betio.

In 2016, it found at least a dozen more Bussa's included, it turned out, the organization said. His remains were found under a building that had to be jacked up to gain access to his grave.

In July, History Flight announced that it had found and turned over an additional 24.

The DPAA's website indicates that 57 servicemen killed at Tarawa, most of them Marines, have been identified since 2014."

https://www.washingt...m=.122150bad7fa

Matters little actually, but provides for some solemn conversation when we drive out to the terminals for a transfer. As the " War on Terror" is winding down, the suicides, crashes, accidents, etc have become routine. The Tarawa Marines and USS Oklahoma remains have added more meaning to our service as volunteers for this service are dwindling. The Delta workforce is getting younger and hiring fewer vets. I " signed up" for a year, and will post more as they pass through. On a sadder note, the recent two Army KIAs were gunned down by Afghan Taliban that had enlisted in the Afghan military. The SF advisor was taken out first at the check point, the other killed in the ensuing gunfight. My co-workers son was there and witnessed the event...needless to say, the Afghan Army checkpoint was totally annihilated, a smoking crater.

Edited by 917601, 09 April 2019 - 01:32 PM.


#14 917601

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Posted 09 April 2019 - 02:04 PM

https://www.wusa9.co...nt/65-488897166

#15 917601

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Posted 10 April 2019 - 12:05 PM

Here is the most recent DOD list of recovered identified HR's. The list is long, many more than most think. We did four today, Another USS Oklahoma, two Navy, one a diver and a recent KIA Army.

"04/08/19: Airman Accounted For From World War II (Stone, W.)WASHINGTON

04/01/19: Airman Accounted For From World War II (Rogers, V.)WASHINGTON

04/01/19: USS Oklahoma Sailor Accounted For From World War II (Poindexter, H.)WASHINGTON

04/01/19: Soldier Accounted For From World War II (Sandini, A.)WASHINGTON

04/01/19: USS Oklahoma Sailor Accounted For From World War II (Hanson, G.)WASHINGTON

03/27/19: Sailor Accounted For From Vietnam War (Guerra, R.)WASHINGTON

03/26/19: Soldier Accounted For From Korean War (Scott, B.)WASHINGTON

03/26/19: Soldier Accounted For From Korean War (Riggs, H.)WASHINGTON

03/25/19: Marine Accounted For From World War II (Schade, L.)WASHINGTON

03/25/19: USS Oklahoma Brothers Accounted For From World War II (Palmer, C. & Palmer, W.)WASHINGTON

03/22/19: USS Oklahoma Sailor Accounted For From World War II (Sadlowski, R.)WASHINGTON

03/21/19: Soldier Accounted For From Korean War (Suliman, F.)WASHINGTON

03/21/19: USS Oklahoma Sailor Accounted For From World War II (McCabe, E.)WASHINGTON

03/20/19: USS Oklahoma Sailor Accounted For From World War II (Thomson, R.)WASHINGTON

03/19/19: Soldier Accounted For From Korean War (Rix, J.)WASHINGTON

03/18/19: USS Oklahoma Sailor Accounted For From World War II (Klasing, W.)WASHINGTON

03/18/19: Soldier Accounted For From Korean War (Nemec, S.)WASHINGTON

03/12/19: Pilot Accounted For From World War II (Lurcott, H.)WASHINGTON

03/12/19: Airman Accounted For From World War II (Shaffer, C.)WASHINGTON

03/12/19: USS Oklahoma Sailor Accounted For From World War II (Maule, J.)WASHINGTON

03/11/19: USS Oklahoma Sailor Accounted For From World War II (Lawson, W.)WASHINGTON

03/11/19: Soldier Accounted For From World War II (Delaney, W.)WASHINGTON

03/07/19: Sailor Accounted For From World War II (Duncan, D.)WASHINGTON

03/07/19: Soldier Accounted For From Korean War (Krebs, J.)WASHINGTON

03/07/19: USS Oklahoma Sailor Accounted For From World War II (West, E.)WASHINGTON

03/05/19: USS West Virginia Sailor Accounted For From World War II (Gabriele, A.)WASHINGTON

03/05/19: USS Oklahoma Sailor Accounted For From World War II (Stern, C.)WASHINGTON........"

Full listings here:
https://www.dpaa.mil...ories/Releases/

Edited by 917601, 10 April 2019 - 12:07 PM.


#16 joeclown

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 01:05 PM

How about all the unaccounted for Americans that were prisoners of the Germans during WW2 when the camps were over run by the Russians the POW's vanished into thin air never to be heard from again. A good book on  that subject is "Soldiers of Misfortune"



#17 KASTAUFFER

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 01:58 PM

How about all the unaccounted for Americans that were prisoners of the Germans during WW2 when the camps were over run by the Russians the POW's vanished into thin air never to be heard from again. A good book on  that subject is "Soldiers of Misfortune"

 

I know that the DPAA is currently trying to find missing US POWs that the Russians marched from Stalag IIIC at Luckenwalde to Poland.  I have a large POW grouping from one of those men and in his possession was a map showing the route the Russians marched them from the POW camp to Poland. I made a copy of it for the DPAA.  In his POW diary he stated that the Russians treated him worse than the Germans did. He said at least the Germans gave them some food. The Russians gave them nothing.

 

Kurt  



#18 joeclown

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 02:23 PM

According to this book the Russians held  23,500 Americans and 30,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers in the Soviet  Gulags after the war. They were in most cases never seen or heard from again. Book also goes into missing pilots form the Korean war that were sent from North Korea to Russian and just vanished.



#19 KASTAUFFER

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 03:06 PM

According to this book the Russians held  23,500 Americans and 30,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers in the Soviet  Gulags after the war. They were in most cases never seen or heard from again. Book also goes into missing pilots form the Korean war that were sent from North Korea to Russian and just vanished.

 

 

That number is very very high.  There were not even that many total Americans held in the camps the Russians liberated.  The DPAA are looking for are the American POWs that died on the march from Luckenwalde to Warsaw.  The Russians liberated Stalag Luft 1 at the end of the war and those Americans made it back to the USA.   I don't doubt there are some POWs missing, especially from the Korean War,  but I don't believe that WWII 23K number for a minute. 

 

The Germans held 100K Americans. I dont believe 1 in 4 were wisked away by the Russians to Siberia. 

 

Kurt


Edited by KASTAUFFER, 14 July 2019 - 03:13 PM.


#20 joeclown

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 03:36 PM

Kurt you are right they did over run camps and took charge of 23,000.




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