US Military Brings Back Remains from World War II Battle

July 21, 2019 Updated: July 21, 2019

HONOLULU—The U.S. military has brought back the remains of more than 20 servicemen killed in one of the bloodiest battles of World War II.

An Air Force cargo plane flew the remains from Tarawa atoll in the remote Pacific island nation of Kiribati to Hawaii on Wednesday. Marines carried flag-draped caskets off the plane for a ceremony.

transfer cases with service members
Service members and guests stand as “Taps” is played over transfer cases carrying the possible remains of unidentified service members lost in the Battle of Tarawa during World War II on July 17, 2019. (Sgt. Jacqueline Clifford/U.S. Marine Corps via AP)

The remains are among those discovered in March by History Flight, a nonprofit organization that searches for the remains of U.S. servicemen lost in past conflicts.

Dr. James Anderson and other service members
Service members bow their heads for an invocation before transfer cases carrying the possible remains of unidentified service members lost in the Battle of Tarawa during World War II on July 17, 2019. (Sgt. Jacqueline Clifford/U.S. Marine Corps via AP)

They’re believed to belong to Marines and sailors from the 6th Marine Regiment who were killed during the last night of the three-day Battle of Tarawa. More than 6,000 Americans, Japanese and Koreans died.

Forensic anthropologists with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency will work to identify the remains using dental records, DNA and other clues.

Marines march pass transfer cases
Marines march past transfer cases holding the possible remains of unidentified service members lost in the Battle of Tarawa on July 17, 2019. (Sgt. Jacqueline Clifford/U.S. Marine Corps via AP)

By Audrey McAvoy

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