Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Remains Of 36 WWII Marines Found On Island

The bodies of 36 US Marines have been found on a remote Pacific island more than 70 years after they died fighting the Japanese in the Second World War.

Mark Noah, director of US charity History Flight, said the remains of the men were discovered after a four-month excavation on Betio Island, Kiribati.

The men were killed during fighting in the Battle of Tarawa in 1943.

Mr Noah told Radio New Zealand: "(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."

Among the bodies is thought to be Lieutenant Alexander Bonnyman, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry - America's highest military honour.

The citation for the medal said he led a series of assaults when Marines stormed the island, and was fatally injured while attacking a bomb-proof installation that was hindering the Marine's advance.

A statement on the charity's website said Lt Bonnyman's daughters had decided to have his remains interred at a family plot in Knoxville, Tennessee.

More than 1,000 Americans died at Tarawa, and the entire Japanese garrison of 4,800 was wiped out.

Mr Noah said the remains will be repatriated to the US this month and identified using dental records and DNA.

He added that bodies of several hundred more US soldiers still remain on the island.

"There's a lot of work to be done on the island," he said.

Wednesday 8 July 2015


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