(e.g. yourname@email.com)

Forgot Password?

    Or login with Facebook

    DPAA honors Battle of Tarawa 75th Anniversary

    75th Anniversary of the Battle of Tarawa

    Photo By Sgt. Jacqueline Clifford | U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Jon Krietz, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) deputy...... read more read more



    Story by Tech. Sgt. Kathrine Dodd 

    Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

    Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) personnel took part in ceremonies this week on two sides of the Pacific Ocean in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Tarawa, waged on Nov. 20-23, 1943, by U.S. military forces in WWII on the shores of what is now the Republic of Kiribati. During the primary attack, more than 1,000 U.S. Marines and Sailors died and more than 400 of those losses are unaccounted for.

    The first observance DPAA personnel attended started at dawn, mere miles west of International Date Line, Nov. 20, 2018, on Betio Island, in the Tawara Atoll of the Republic of Kiribati. President Taneti Maamau of Kiribati hosted the event at the Battle of Tarawa Memorial near what was known as the Red Beaches, the site of the 76-hour amphibious assault decades ago.

    Maamau welcomed U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Jon Kreitz, DPAA deputy director of operations, as well as other foreign dignitaries to include Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, to lay wreaths at the base of the memorial.

    In the afternoon, DPAA members gathered at the Bonriki International Airport in Kiribati to host a repatriation ceremony of two transfer cases containing what may be the remains of unknown U.S. service members that were recently found by History Flight, a non-profit partner that has been assisting DPAA in the search for losses on Betio Island.

    Before the cases were loaded for transport, Kreitz gave his remarks to attendees. He covered the history, circumstances and sacrifices made during the Battle of Tarawa, as well as thank all those who take part in the identification process.

    “We are here today because of unprecedented coordination between many dedicated people and organizations, Kreitz said. “All of whom are devoted to helping us ensure no last chapters are written until every American who fought here 75 years ago is finally brought home.”

    According to Kreitz, DPAA has repatriated more than 300 sets of remains. DPAA has also disinterred 94 caskets from the National Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP) in Hawaii. To date, 95 service members associated with the Battle of Tarawa have been identified. Twenty-two of these identifications occurred during fiscal year 2018.

    Kreitz extended words of appreciation for the close support and assistance of the government of Kiribati, History Flight, U.S. Embassy Suva and the Kiribati people.

    Meanwhile, more than 1,800 miles east, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, Kelly McKeague, Director of DPAA, and Johnie Webb, DPAA Outreach and Communications deputy director, welcomed American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) Secretary William Matz and Undersecretary for Memorial Affairs Randy Reeves, as well as 23 family members of U.S. service members lost in the Battle of Tarawa, for a tour of the DPAA facility.

    After the tour, McKeague accompanied Matz and the visiting Tarawa families as they made their way to the 75th Anniversary Battle for Tarawa Ceremony and rededication of the Courts of the Missing, hosted by the ABMC at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

    At the ceremony, McKeague gave his remarks, recognizing those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the Nation by thanking those families in attendance.

    “As many of you gathered here know, for the families of those men who did not return from the Battle of Tarawa, the years in between have been fraught with uncertainty, doubt and, for some, the feeling that their loved ones were, indeed, forgotten,” he said. “To the family members who are here today, I offer you my gratitude for your perseverance and patience as the accounting efforts unfolded. It is truly an honor for me to be with you here today,” he said.

    At the close of the event, the 14 families were each handed the ABMC rosette to place next to their loved one, signifying that their loved one, once unknown is now in a named grave. One such family member was Alexandra Bonnyman, daughter of U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt. Alexander Bonnyman Jr., Medal of Honor recipient.

    Near midnight, observances came to a close as DPAA personnel at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam assembled to receive the remains repatriated from the Republic of Kiribati earlier that day. Through all the events happening throughout the day across hundreds of miles of ocean, one idea was constant: every unaccounted-for American is entitled to one certainty – that he or she will not be forgotten and will be brought back home to their families and our nation.



    Date Taken: 11.20.2018
    Date Posted: 11.20.2018 15:09
    Story ID: 300727
    Location: HI, US

    Web Views: 229
    Downloads: 1
    Podcast Hits: 0