The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, recently accounted-for from World War II, are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Marine Corps Pfc. Lyle E. Charpilloz, 17, of Silverton, Oregon, accounted for on Sept. 27, 2017, will be buried April 7, in Salem, Oregon. In November 1943, Charpilloz was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Charpilloz died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943.
The battle of Tarawa was a huge victory for the U.S. military because the Gilbert Islands provided the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet a platform from which to launch assaults on the Marshall and Caroline Islands to advance their Central Pacific Campaign against Japan.
In the immediate aftermath of the fighting on Tarawa, U.S. service members who died in the battle were buried in a number of battlefield cemeteries on the island. In 1946 and 1947, the 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company conducted remains recovery operations on Betio Island, but Charpilloz’ remains were not recovered. On Feb. 10, 1949, a military review board declared Charpilloz’ remains non-recoverable.
In May 2014, through a partnership with History Flight, Inc., DPAA received remains from a site where Charpilloz was believed to have been buried. The recovered remains were sent to the laboratory for analysis.
On Oct. 17, 2016, DPAA disinterred Tarawa Unknown X-5 from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu, and submitted the remains for analysis. Based on consistent recovery context and shared DNA, the remains were consolidated with those accessioned in 2014.
To identify Charpilloz’ remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA), which matched his family, dental and anthropological analysis, which matched his records, as well as circumstantial evidence.
DPAA is grateful to History Flight, Inc., and the Department of Veterans Affairs for their partnerships in this mission.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 72,948 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Charpilloz’ name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the NCMP, an American Battle Monuments Commission cemetery, along with the others killed or lost in WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil, find us on social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa or call (703) 699-1420.