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 Sgt. Elden W. Grimm, 26, of Menasha, Wisconsin, accounted for on Sept. 26, 2017, will be buried May 26 in Neenah, Wisconsin. In November 1943, Grimm was assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 18th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, 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. Grimm died on Nov. 25, 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, the 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company of the American Graves Registration Services (AGRS) had recovered remains from burial sites across the Tarawa Atoll and interred them in Lone Palm Cemetery. The remains that could not be identified were designated as “Unknowns.”
In 1947, the U.S. Army began disinterments to bring the remains to Oahu for identification at the Central Identification Laboratory. A set of remains designated Unknown X-150 were sent to the Schofield Barracks Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii for analysis. When the X-150 could not be identified, they were reinterred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu.
In October 2016, due to recent advances in forensic technology, DPAA began the exhumation of unknown remains associated with Tarawa from the Punchbowl and sent the remains to the DPAA laboratory for analysis.
To identify Grimm’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental, anthropological and chest radiograph comparison analysis, which matched his records, and circumstantial evidence.
DPAA is grateful to the Department of Veterans Affairs for their partnership 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 72,918 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Grimm’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are missing from 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) 699-1420/1169.