The body of a Marine killed more than 70 years ago in World War II was recently identified and brought back to his hometown in Wisconsin.
U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Raymond A. Barker was buried with full military honors Saturday at Spring Grove Cemetery in Delavan, FOX 6 Milwaukee reported.
"Seventy-five years later after he was gone, here we are celebrating this event," Barker’s nephew, John Gibbus, told the station.
"Seventy-five years later after he was gone, here we are celebrating this event."
Barker was killed on the first day of the Battle of Tarawa on Nov. 20, 1943, at age 22. Approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded during the three-day fight against the Japanese resistance on the island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, located in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and Papua New Guinea.
For nearly a century Barker’s body was deemed non-recoverable, but last year scientists with the Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) used “advanced investigative techniques” to discover areas on Tarawa believed to be burial sites for the battle’s fallen troops. The government agency works to provide the fullest possible accounting of missing personnel to their families and the country.
"They discovered some bones and matched them up with dental records and with DNA samples provided by family members," Gibbus told FOX 6. "That allowed them to identify the body."
"They discovered some bones and matched them up with dental records and with DNA samples provided by family members. That allowed them to identify the body."
Second Marine's remains also ID'd
The DPAA identified a second Marine from Tarawa who was also buried Saturday. Marine Corps Sgt. David Quinn, 24, was returned to his hometown of Temple, N.H., and received full military honors, like Barker.
A contingent of Marines awaited the arrival Barker’s remains in the U.S., saluting his casket and placing it into a hearse, the station reported. Onlookers gathered to pay tribute, waving American flags and saluting the fallen hero as his remains were taken through the streets of Delavan.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker ordered flags to half-staff on Saturday in honor of Barker’s service.
"These guys are giving the ultimate sacrifice to defend our right to be free," Don Lawrence told the station. "It's sad that somebody is coming home this way. I think it makes everyone here proud."
Barker, who was assigned to the 2nd Tank Battalion of the 2nd Marine Division, was buried next to his parents, the station said. A gold star had marked his place at the cemetery while he was considered missing in action.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.