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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.
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