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Researchers used ground-penetrating radar, tediously reviewed thousands of military documents, and interviewed hundreds to find 139 graves. There, they say, lie the remains of men who died 65 years ago in the Pacific Ocean on Tarawa Atoll.

Mark Noah, 43, of Marathon, Fla., raised money for the expedition through his nonprofit, History Flight, by selling vintage military aircraft rides at air shows. He hopes the government will investigate further after research is given to the Defense Department in January.

"There will have to be convincing evidence before we mount an excavation of any spot that could yield remains," said Larry Greer, spokesman for the Pentagon's Prisoner of War and Missing in Action Office.

Government archeologists would probably excavate a small test site first, he said.

James Clayton Johnson never met his uncle, James Bernard Johnson, who died on Tarawa at age 17. But Johnson, who was named for his father's brother, never forgot that young Marine.

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/a...ous_marines_are_found_on_pacific_ocean_atoll/
 

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Stars and Stripes is reporting that a lieutenant colonel from JTF-FA is looking at the find, and they may modify their 2009 search schedule to accomodate a full excavation. If this is an American Grave, a lot of families are going to receive closure.
 

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There are many reasons why graves were lost track of.
One is the large number of Marines killed before reaching shore and the bodies washing up days or even weeks later, unidentifible due to decomposition and requiring quick burial.
No doubt the shellings and flame throwers often resulted in Japanese and American bodies being mixed together in unidentifiable condition.

The bones of MIA, both US and Japanese, were probably showing up years later, where they'd been caught in caved in tunnels and collapsed trenches.

Modern DNA methods may allow identification of American fallen that could not be ID'ed at the time.

Mom told me of a relative's coffin being returned to them from the pacific and his brother being suspicious that the body wasn't his brother's. He said that if his brother were in the box he would know it.
He and the family doctor examined the skeletal remains and concluded that it could not be his brother.

Another family member found that his brother who'd been missing and presumed dead at Bataan had escaped into the jungle along with several Fillipino troops and survived the war.
 

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My son's scout troop always helped the VFW place flags on the graves at the local cemetery each Memorial day and the two saddest graves were ones for a Marine that was buried at sea off Tarawa and one for a B17 navigator that was missing in action on a bombing mission in the Pacific. I always wondered about the families that bought a grave marker and an empty grave to have a place to honor their sons, I always tried to point out those graves as something special to the boys.

I would guess that most of the families that knew those men buried on Tarawa have also gone on by now, it may be best to let them rest in peace.
 

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It's right that remains found by chance should be given the right treatment, and if possible identified. But going out looking for them by scientific means sounds a bit like grandstanding for attention, and there is something a bit distasteful in the idea that relatives should still need release. These men died in a war that was almost universally believed was right and proper, and I don't believe anybody needs more release than that, unless some fast-talking stranger comes and convinces him he has a problem.

There are parts of northern France where the task would be a lot easier, since there are more unknown Allied soldiers buried than French civilians since the beginning of the world. But it was an honourable condition, which their families understood. Even nowadays, they chisel an occasional name off the Menin Gate memorial to the missing. But it doesn't need more than that.
 

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By this period of the war things were getting better organised.
There would not be such an amount of random or washed up corpses just
dumped, buried and forgotten.

I know they found 50 or more Marine Raiders a few years ago that had been murdered and randomly buried by the Japanese.
This is a different deal. There would have been a collection point and records made of it.
This is too a large a number to be a random incident, even considering the carnage at the time.
I think the word regarding families is "closure." I agree that few people who actually knew these guys are living.
My Mother, 85, speaks about those days and the homefront like it was yesterday.
Guess we'll see.

An aircrewman recovered recently from the "hump" was returned home.
It was a nice gesture, but all his family is gone.
 

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Recently they found the remains of an American airman in a swamp in Hungary. His crewmates all jumped from the doomed bomber and and the survivors were captured. The military identified his body using the DNA from his family.

The Governor of CT ordered the lowering of the State flag last week in his honor. His sister was interviewed and was very grateful for finally recovering his long lost remains and mentioned the impact of his disappearence on her parents. Who knows what is important to the family after all of these years.

Joe
 

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It's right that remains found by chance should be given the right treatment, and if possible identified. But going out looking for them by scientific means sounds a bit like grandstanding for attention, and there is something a bit distasteful in the idea that relatives should still need release. These men died in a war that was almost universally believed was right and proper, and I don't believe anybody needs more release than that, unless some fast-talking stranger comes and convinces him he has a problem.

There are parts of northern France where the task would be a lot easier, since there are more unknown Allied soldiers buried than French civilians since the beginning of the world. But it was an honourable condition, which their families understood. Even nowadays, they chisel an occasional name off the Menin Gate memorial to the missing. But it doesn't need more than that.
Let's let the families decide the relevance and importance of this.
 

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+1.
 
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