WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- The remains of 7 Marines who were missing in action in World War II were identified and will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on October 4, says the Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office.
The seven will be buried in one casket.
The Marines are identified as:
- 1st Lt. Laverne A. Lallathin of Raymond, Wash.
- 2nd Lt. Dwight D. Ekstam of Moline, Ill.
- 2nd Lt. Walter B. Vincent, Jr. of Tulsa, Okla.
- Tech. Sgt. James A. Sisney of Redwood City, Calif.
- Cpl. Wayne R. Erickson of Minneapolis
- Cpl. John D. Yeager of Pittsburgh, Pa
- Pfc. John A. Donovan of Plymouth, Mich.
The Marines were aboard a PBJ-1 aircraft on April 22, 1944, that did not return from a nighttime training mission over the island of Espiritu Santo in what is now known as Vanatu. None of the seven crew members were recovered, and a year later they were officially presumed dead.
A group of private citizens notified the U.S. in 1994 that the wreckage of an aircraft had been found on the island. The human remains recovered were turned over to the Department of Defense. In 1999, a survey team from the joint POW/MIA Accounting Command(JPAC) traveled to the location of the crash, which was in rugged terrain at an elevation of 2,600 ft. Multiple JPAC teams returned to the area from 2000-2011 to excavate the site, recovering human remains, aircraft parts and military equipment.
The remains were identified by scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, which evaluated both circumstantial evidence and DNA that matched family members of the missing Marines.