FREDERICKSBURG, Va. — The nation’s enduring promise of “no one left behind,” isn’t put on hold because of the global pandemic. Scientists from the Defense POW / MIA Accounting Agency announced the positive DNA identification of 11 sets of American remains last month, all belonging to service members who died in the November 1943 Pacific Battle of Tarawa.
The identifications were made possible because of new excavations on a small sandbar the size of the National Mall – where World War II guns still point towards the Pacific. Anthropologists working for the Fredericksburg-based non-profit, History Flight, discovered an elusive burial row of a lost grave in March 2019, with the results of DNA testing announced days ago.
"Scientists are still working on DNA analysis, even during the covid shutdown, every single day," Sgt. Maj. Justin LeHew, History Flight’s chief operating officer, said. "Once our team made that discovery, we continued to excavate that row, and that row revealed 32 sets of long-missing remains."
Of the 32 sets, three identifications were made in January and February 2020.
Below are the 11 individuals newly identified from Tarawa since the pandemic began.
Rank & Name Service Date Announced
- Pfc. John E. Gillen USMC Reserve 4/27/2020
- Pfc. Harold W. Hayden USMC Reserve 4/27/2020
- Cpl. Raymond J. Tuhey USMC 4/27/2020
- 1st Lt. Hugh D. Fricks USMC Reserve 4/27/2020
- Sgt. Fred Farris USMC 4/17/2020
- Pvt. Jacob Cruz USMC Reserve 4/17/2020
- Pfc. Elden R. Baumbach USMC 4/16/2020
- Sgt. George R. Reeser USMC 4/16/2020
- Pfc. John W. Hoffman, Jr. USMC Reserve 4/16/2020
- Pvt. Jack R. Stambaugh USMC 4/15/2020
- Sgt. Donald D. Stoddard USMC 4/06/2020
RELATED: BLOG: Journey to Tarawa