Tag Archive: Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

Remains Of 132 American Marines Found on Tarawa

by Dan Doyle

Remains Of 132 American Marines Found on Tarawa

Painting depicting the Tarawa landings

This is one of those stories that are weighted down with melancholy. It has equal parts of sadness, joy, and closure in it. It began 72 years ago on the sandy beaches of the small South Pacific atoll of Tarawa. Over a period of only three days (November 20-23, 1943) the battle for that tiny atoll would become one of the bloodiest battles of WWII.

The small atoll of Tarawa had a garrison of 4,500 Japanese soldiers. They had dug in and heavily fortified the island against such an attack and would put up a fierce defense of it when the Marines began to land. 18,000 Marines and Navy Corpsmen were sent ashore to take the island on November 20th. As with so many military endeavors, things happened that were not prepared for.

It was low tide when the Navy landing craft approached the beach and, they became grounded on the reefs off shore. The Japanese raked them with heavy machine-gun fire. (My uncle was a Navy driver on one of those landing craft.) The Marines waded ashore through hundreds of yards of chest deep waters and withering machine-gun fire, to be met on the beach with brutal hand-to-hand combat.

In the course of those three days, 990 Marines and 30 Navy Corpsman and LCI drivers were killed in action, but the Marines were able to take the island. 520 were listed as MIA. A private group called History Flight, based out of Marathon, Florida, has used ground penetrating radar to find the remains of some 139 missing Marines. On July 26, 2015, History Flight brought 36 of them on the first leg of their return home to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The identification process continues under the auspices of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. When the identifications are completed, the Marine Corps will return the remains to their families. A military ceremony was held there to mark their return on Sunday, July 28th, 2015.

REST IN PEACE. YOU ARE FINALLY HOME.

News From VFW National

MIA Updates

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains of four American servicemen who had been missing in action since World War II. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:

  • Navy Lt. Julian B. Jordan, 37, from Georgia, and Seaman 2nd Class Rudolph V. Piskuran, of  Ohio, had been missing since Dec. 7, 1941, when the battleship USS Oklahoma they were aboard suffered multiple torpedo hits and capsized as it was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. They will be buried on dates and locations yet to be announced.
  • Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Leonard R. Farron, 23, will be buried May 4 in his hometown of Tacoma, Wash. On Oct. 15, 1942, Farron was piloting a P-39 Airacobra that failed to return to base after a strafing mission over Tassafaronga, Guadalcanal. He was assigned to the 67th Fighter Squadron, 347th Fighter Group, 13th Air Force.
  • Army Cpl. David J. Wishon Jr., 18, of Baltimore, will be buried May 6 in Arlington National Cemetery. Wishon was declared missing in action after his unit was heavily attacked by enemy forces in the vicinity of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea on Dec. 1, 1950. He was assigned to Medical Company, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division.