WW2 Tarawa's lost Marines

Discussion in 'Military' started by whitehall, Apr 26, 2011.

  1. whitehall
    Online

    whitehall Gold Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2010
    Messages:
    19,183
    Thanks Received:
    2,328
    Trophy Points:
    245
    Location:
    Western Va.
    Ratings:
    +2,647
    The source is an article in "Semper Fi", the magazine of the Marine Corps League from a book Tarawa's Gravediggers by Bill Niven.. Apparently the Army KIA in Europe during WW2 were respected and the temporary graves marked as well as possible. Not so in the Pacific where Marines got the shitty end of the stick, the bulldozing of the Marine graves on Tarawa. During the 72 hour battle the Marines sustained 1,027 KIA which were buried in mass graves in 42 temporary cemeteries by Marine engineers and Navy See Bees. Official records indicate 1,027 Marines buried but other records indicate 1266 including Navy personnel. Here's where it gets bad. See Bees were instructed by the War dept to turn Tarawa into an air base and every cemetary was bulldozed. In a March 1944 photo op for Life Magazine the War department erected a nice field of crosses but there was nothing under them. To add insult to injury the Navy Dept tried to comfort the families of lost Marines with conflicting stories about being buried at sea. In one account the family of a Marine Medal of Honor Lt. was told by the Lt's platoon of the respectful way they buried him in one of the temporary cemeteries and years later the Navy Dept sent them a letter saying that the Lt was buried at sea which they knew was a lie. Today the researchers are still trying to piece the honored Marine dead from abandoned junk piles left on Tarawa.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2011
  2. Toronado3800
    Offline

    Toronado3800 VIP Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2009
    Messages:
    3,349
    Thanks Received:
    252
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Ratings:
    +287
    W/O reading further I hope the deal is that airbase was needed SOOO quick there was not time to relocate the bodies. If so the dead made one last noble sacrifice for to help save their live comrades.

    Please say that is so.
     
  3. whitehall
    Online

    whitehall Gold Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2010
    Messages:
    19,183
    Thanks Received:
    2,328
    Trophy Points:
    245
    Location:
    Western Va.
    Ratings:
    +2,647
    Was the construction of Tarawa's airstrip so important that cemeteries couldn't be relocated? It doesn't look like it. The coverup is usually worse than the crime. The Life photograph of pristine grave sites is bogus and the incredibly inept attempt by the Navy Dept to cover their butts by sending letters about burial at sea that they knew weren't verified is hard to understand. The parents of Marine Lt. Bonnymann who was killed leading the charge at a bunker and received the Medal of Honor were informed by the Navy Dept in 1949 that their son was buried at sea which conflicted with the numerous letters from his men. His body was never recovered.
     
  4. RetiredGySgt
    Offline

    RetiredGySgt Gold Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2007
    Messages:
    35,164
    Thanks Received:
    4,517
    Trophy Points:
    247
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Ratings:
    +4,863
    I don't recall any heavy fighting near Tarawa after it fell so the need for an airbase was not, as far as I can tell, a priority so dire that bodies had to be bulldozed over.
     
  5. whitehall
    Online

    whitehall Gold Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2010
    Messages:
    19,183
    Thanks Received:
    2,328
    Trophy Points:
    245
    Location:
    Western Va.
    Ratings:
    +2,647
    The point is that it wasn't all sweetness and respect for the American Military during and after WW2. Marines were sacrificed in ways that would make your hair curl today. The media did their best to rewrite history but the tragedies and corruption and the coverups by the government happened and we need to understand it and compare it to the situations we face today.
     
  6. Dog Boy
    Offline

    Dog Boy Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2011
    Messages:
    4
    Thanks Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Ratings:
    +3
    I can speak with some authority on this subject because I was a member of the History Flight search team that was on Tarawa for an 10 day mission in February of this year. My assingment was to locate mass graves and cemeteries containing US Marines using my grave detection K9, Buster. We can search large areas very quickly and put the geophysics team right on top of the sites. They then did detailed scanning with the Ground Penetrating Radar, Magnetometer and EM-38 Mark 2.

    Everyone on the mission was a volunteer with expenses paid for by History Flight and American Airlines.

    Search areas were selected by converting military grid coordinates of Marine burial sites to GPS coordinates as well as interviews with Tarawa Marines who were involved in the burials of their fellow Marines and examining overlays of 1943 aerial photos of the island with present day aerial photos of the island. The small island has over 20,000 residents there now and it is very crowded.

    I can tell you that the mission was VERY SUCCESSFUL and the data will be given to JPAC. Hisorty Flight executive director Mark Noah and I will be meeting next week with Congressman Buck McKeon and his staff in Washington DC. Congressman McKeon is a big supporter of bringing the Tarawa Marines home. He is also Chairman of the House Armed Services Committiee.

    Sgt. Paul Dostie (ret. MLPD)
     
    • Thank You! Thank You! x 3
  7. whitehall
    Online

    whitehall Gold Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2010
    Messages:
    19,183
    Thanks Received:
    2,328
    Trophy Points:
    245
    Location:
    Western Va.
    Ratings:
    +2,647
    Yeah, Dog Boy, we understand GPS technology but the sites were fragmented and spread out by dozers sixty five years ago. I never heard of a cadaver dog working with evidence that old. I hope modern technology finally succeeds in it's mission but for what I see in the Marine Corps League magazine it ain't going to be easy. More like a tooth or a contaminated fragmented bone to stand for what was once the valor of Marines in the Pacific. I hope they find something to bury in Medal of Honor Lt. Bonnyman's grave.
     
  8. Oddball
    Offline

    Oddball BANNED Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2009
    Messages:
    41,428
    Thanks Received:
    8,390
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Drinking wine, eating cheese, catching rays
    Ratings:
    +8,396
    :salute:
     
  9. Dog Boy
    Offline

    Dog Boy Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2011
    Messages:
    4
    Thanks Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Ratings:
    +3
    Using the K9 to locate graves on Tarawa was scientifically fairly easy because all the environmental conditions were in our favor. We were subjected to several double blind tests in areas where human remains were known to be located and the dog nailed every one of them.

    The typical "Cadaver Dog" is trained on soft tissue decomposition to find surface remains for Search and Rescue. This particular dog is trained to located human bone decomposition Volatile Organic Compounds, VOCs. This is an entirely different chemical profile or "scent". He is validated in detecting these VOCs in parts per trillion by Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer analysis at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

    The geophysics team are experts in identifying clandestine graves and uncasketed remains. GPS/GIS overlays of the K9 alerts with the GPR grave signatures, match up.
     
  10. whitehall
    Online

    whitehall Gold Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2010
    Messages:
    19,183
    Thanks Received:
    2,328
    Trophy Points:
    245
    Location:
    Western Va.
    Ratings:
    +2,647
    I don't want to get in a pissin contest with an enthusiastic apparent modern expert in recovering bodies. I guess my ancient police experience is outclassed but I do know the difference between clandestine graves and uncasketed remains and what must be a incredible mess of fragmented bones and teeth spread out as fill on an air field. I hope the feds are hiring DNA experts these days and my point remains that the Tarawa case is an example of lack of leadership in the Military and callus disregard for the Uncommon Valor of Marines in the Pacific during the closing days of WW2
     

Share This Page