UPDATED: Remains of WWII US Marines were discovered on a remote island, after a four-month excavation on Betio Island in Kiribati, director of US charity History Flight Inc., Mark Noah, told Radio New Zealand.
36 WWII US Marines remains have been found on a remote Pacific island. A member of the recovery team said, the bodies are there for 70 years after they died in the World War II battle.
According to Noah, whose organisation worked with the US Defense Department on the project, said the soldiers were killed during the 1943 Battle of Tarawa were more than 1,000 Americans died, while the entire Japanese garrison of 4,800 was wiped out.
WWII US Marines , “The soldiers had an expectation that if they were to die in the line of duty defending their country they would be brought home as it was promised 70 years ago that we felt should be kept.”, He added.
While the remains have not been formally identified, Noah said they almost certainly include those of Lieutenant Alexander Bonnyman, who received the Medal of Honor, America’s highest military honor for bravery.
A statement on History Flight’s website said, A funeral service was planned by Bonnyman’s daughters.
She decided to have his father’s remains to rest in Knoxville, Tennessee, next to his parents.
Noah said, this month the remains would be repatriated and identified using a combination of dental records and DNA comparison with the soldiers’ relatives.
“There’s a lot of work to be done on the island,” according to Noah, that there are still several hundred American soldiers that buried in unrecorded graves after the battle.
Efforts would continue to make sure that the remains were returned home to their families, Noah added.