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Battle of Tarawa: Tombs of 30 US Marines, sailors found on the battlefield of the Pacific World War II



Honolulu – A nonprofit organization looking for remnants of US soldiers killed in earlier conflicts has found the grave of more than 30 marines and sailors in one of the bloodiest battles of the Second World War II were killed. A team working on Tarawa's distant Pacific atoll found the tombs in March, said Mark Noah, President of History Flight.

It is believed that the remains of marines and sailors of the 6 Battle of Tarawa . In November 1943, 18,000 US Marines stormed the Tarawa. It was so heavily fortified that a Japanese commander boasted that one million men would take 1

00 years to conquer the island. The Marines took three days.

  Remains of the Pacific in World War II
This photograph in November 1943 shows outstretched bodies on the Tarawa Atoll beach, documenting the fierceness of the battle for this strip of sand during the US invasion of the Gilbert Islands.

/ AP


The Defense POW / MIA Accounting Agency expects to pick up the mortal remains next month and fly to Hawaii. John Byrd, director of the agency's laboratories. Forensic Anthropologists of the Military will then work to identify them by means of tooth files, DNA and other clues.

More than 990 US Marines and 30 US sailors were killed at the Battle of Tarawa after the US launched an amphibious squadron attacking the small island about 2,300 miles southwest of Honolulu.

Marines and sailors quickly came across Japanese machine-gun fire as their boats got stuck on the reef at low tide. The Americans, who made it to the beach, faced a brutal melee.

The lost Marines of Tarawa were brought home.

The US military buried its men in makeshift cemeteries where they fell. The naval battalion's sailors have removed the markings for these graves as they hastily built runways and other infrastructures to help US forces push the Pacific further into Japan.

History Flight has since 2015 salvaged the remains of 272 people from Tarawa under a contract with the Department of Defense excavations, Noah said. He estimates that at least another 270 must be found.

  Remains of World War II in the Pacific
This photo of History Flight from June 1, 2019 shows tombs of US soldiers in Tarawa, Kiribati.

Eric Albertson / AP


Tarawa is now part of the Republic of Kiribati. His administration allowed History Flight to demolish an abandoned building on its last search. Many of the graves were among them.

A large number of graves are also below the water table, which means that air crews have to pump water from the site every day to dig.

Byrd said the Army Graves Registration Service had some excavated from Tarawas temporary cemeteries in the late 1940s, but left parts of individuals during this process.

History Flight now digs out these graves thoroughly, leading them to find some partial remains that match those already buried as "unknown" in a national cemetery in Honolulu. The Defense POW / MIA Accounting Agency dug up these remains in 2017 to provide additional identification.

The agency has since 2015 unearthed more than 100 people from Tarawa and the Honolulu Cemetery.


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