White House and Pentagon officials confirmed an American lost for 74 years will finally be brought home, after January’s government shutdown canceled a mission to retrieve his remains from a forgotten Pacific grave.
The mission led by the U.S. Marines is now set for March 13, with a military plane flying from Pearl Harbor to the remote Pacific atoll of Tarawa.
The human remains include a full skeleton of an unidentified American who lost his life during World War II.
According to Defense Department data first reported by WUSA9, 452 Americans are still buried on Tarawa, placed in mass graves after the primary American assault on the Japanese base in November 1943.
Anthropologists working for the Florida-based non-profit group History Flight found the remains. The private team has found dozens of Marines left in Tarawa’s lost graves, leading major excavation efforts since 2015.
The original repatriation mission set for late January was derailed by 2018’s first government shutdown. After WUSA9 notified a White House official of the cancellation, the official indicated the White House would seek a resolution to the issue.
A White House email to WUSA9 first confirmed the mission had resumed, followed by confirmation from the Pentagon.