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Archive for Thursday, August 16, 2001

Remains of WWII Marines brought home for burial

August 16, 2001

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— The remains of 13 Marines killed on a South Pacific atoll during World War II received a solemn send-off Wednesday en route to their final resting place.

A lone bagpiper played "Amazing Grace" as he strolled past the 13 flag-draped caskets. Marine pall bearers then loaded them into a KC-130 Marine Corps airplane for transport to Arlington National Cemetery, where they will be buried Friday.

"There is no statute of limitations on honor," said Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii. "It is never too late to do what is right."

The 13 were among 19 Marines from the 2nd Raider Battalion who were killed during an Aug. 17, 1942, raid on the Japanese-held Makin Atoll, now known as Butaritari, in the Gilbert Islands.

Their bodies, left on the small coral reef island after the two-day raid, were buried together by local residents.

An unsuccessful attempt to recover remains on Makin was made in 1949. The search was renewed in 1998 by relatives of the dead and other World War II veterans; the break came when searchers found an island resident who had helped bury the bodies as a young boy.

The 19 bodies were recovered and identified two years ago. The other six sets of remains were previously returned to families for burial.

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