This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 8 °C Tuesday 11 December, 2018
Advertisement

Bodies of 36 US Marines found 70 years after they died

The remains of the men were discovered after a four-month excavation on Betio Island in Kiribati.

U.S. Marines are seen as they storm an airport on Tarawa atoll in 1943
U.S. Marines are seen as they storm an airport on Tarawa atoll in 1943

THE BODIES OF 36 US Marines have been found on a remote Pacific island more than 70 years after they died in a bloody World War II battle, a member of the recovery team said.

The remains of the men were discovered after a four-month excavation on Betio Island in Kiribati, director of US charity History Flight Inc, Mark Noah, told Radio New Zealand.

Noah, whose organisation worked with the US Defence Department on the project, said the men were killed during the Battle of Tarawa in 1943.

“(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,” he said.

While the remains have not been formally identified, Noah said they almost certainly include those of Lieutenant Alexander Bonnyman, who posthumously received America’s highest military accolade, the Medal of Honour, for conspicuous gallantry.

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.

WWII U.S. INVASION TARAWA US Marines are seen as they advance from the beach. Source: AP/Press Association Images

A statement on History Flight’s website said Bonnyman’s daughters had decided to have his remains interred in a family plot in Knoxville, Tennessee, next to his parents, with a public funeral service planned.

Overall, more than 1,000 Americans died at Tarawa, while the entire Japanese garrison of 4,800 was wiped out.

Noah said the remains would be repatriated this month and identified using a combination of dental records and DNA comparison with surviving relatives.

He said the bodies of several hundred American soldiers still lay in makeshift, unrecorded graves where they were buried after the battle.

Noah said efforts would continue to ensure that the bodies were returned home.

“There’s a lot of work to be done on the island,” he said.

- © AFP, 2015

Read: Three dead in shooting near US university campus

Read: Two die after mid-air collision between fighter jet and plane

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

AFP

Read next:

COMMENTS (21)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel