Pentagon ‘Actively Working’ to Recover Missing Remains of Marines Killed in Tarawa

Marines Storm Island
Obie Newcomb Jnr/Getty Images

The Pentagon is actively searching for the missing remains of several hundred Marines killed in the World War II bloody Battle of Tarawa in the Pacific, according to the Department of Defense (DoD) agency charged with recovering missing U.S. service members.

Lt. Col. Melinda Morgan, a spokeswoman for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), told Breitbart News that “DPAA is actively working to [recover] missing and unaccounted for [U.S. service members] all over the world to include our missing in Tarawa. There are over 73000 still unaccounted for from WWII and our mission is to provide the fullest possible accounting to the families of these brave men and women who served our nation.”

Breitbart News previously reported that History Flight, a Florida-based non-profit charity organization, is leading the efforts to recover the remains of several hundred U.S. Marines allegedly lost and left behind by the military more than 70 years ago in a remote island in the Pacific after they were killed in the World War II Battle of Tarawa. The battle took place in Betio Island in Kiribati.

Mark Noah, History Flight’s executive director, said his organization is working to further develop a public-private partnership with the Pentagon to recover the missing Marines. Lt. Col. Morgan confirmed those efforts.

Early this month, History Flight was successful in locating the bodies of 36 Marines killed in the bloody battle, including the remains of Medal of Honor recipient recipient 1st Lt. Alexander “Sandy” Bonneyman, Jr.

“We are working currently on plans to repatriate the Marines lost during the Battle of Tarawa that were recently recovered by Mark Noah and History Flight. We are very grateful for the efforts of Mark Noah and History Flight for the recovery of these Marines lost during the Battle of Tarawa,” the DPAA spokeswoman told Breitbart News earlier this month.

“We are working with History Flight and the Marine Corps to repatriate these remains to the United States after which DPAA’s laboratory will expeditiously confirm or complete the identities of the recovered Marines,” she continued. “This is a tremendous example of how private-public partnerships can contribute to our accounting efforts both now and in the future.”

More than 540 U.S. Marines, including a few Navy corpsmen, were listed as missing after the fierce Battle of Tarawa, according to History Flight.

“They didn’t recover at least 300 to 400 people,” Mr. Noah told Breitbart News earlier this month. Several hundred of those U.S. service members, most of them Marines, still lay in makeshift, unmarked graves on the Pacific island where the ballet took place.

The U.S. military lost the bodies and lied to the families about it, telling them their loved ones were missing in action, Noah told the Tampa Bay Times in 2008.

“Right after the battle, the Marines left and Naval service battalions came in and turn the island into a high-tech American air base and in doing so, they removed the grave markers on all the graves and put up nice looking cemeteries like you see in the states that had no relationship to where the bodies where actually buried,” Noah said during the July 11 Breitbart News Saturday radio broadcast on Sirius XM Patriot radio channel 125.

“The Navy came and built a really nice air base so they could keep the war going towards Japan, towards Tokyo and they took down the markers on the original graves and they put up new, good looking cemeteries that often were not in the same proximity as the actual burial,” he added.


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