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Marine Killed During WWII Identified 74 Years Later, Set to be Buried in Cave City

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The remains of a  World War II Marine killed during battle have been identified and he is now set to have a proper burial in Cave City this month--74 years later.

Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Albert Strange will be buried in Cave City on December 13th.

In November 1943, Strange was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Strange died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943.

Despite the heavy casualties suffered by U.S. forces, military success in the battle of Tarawa was a huge victory for the U.S. military because the Gilbert Islands provided the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet a platform from which to launch assaults on the Marshall and Caroline Islands to advance their Central Pacific Campaign against Japan.

In the immediate aftermath of the fighting on Tarawa, U.S. service members who died in the battle were buried in a number of battlefield cemeteries on the island. The 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company conducted remains recovery operations on Betio between 1946 and 1947, but Strange's remains were not identified.

In May 2017, DPAA, through a partnership with History Flight, Inc., returned to Betio to conduct excavations of osseous remains through various advanced investigative techniques.  The remains were sent to DPAA for analysis.

To identify Strange's remains, scientists from DPAA used dental, anthropological and chest radiograph comparison analysis, which matched his records, as well as circumstantial and material evidence.

DPAA is appreciative to History Flight, Inc., for their partnership in this mission.

Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war.  Currently there are 72,969 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Strange's name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, along with the other MIAs from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Courtesy to Kristen L. Duus ,SFC USARMY DPAA EC, for the information and the Department of Defense for the photo. 

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