The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that Marine Corps Pfc. Royal L. Waltz, 20, of Cambria, California, killed during World War II, was accounted for on May 15, 2019.
In November 1943, Waltz was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 18th 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, while the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Waltz died between the first and second day of the battle, Nov. 20-21.
In 1946, the 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company centralized all American remains found on Tarawa at Lone Palm Cemetery for later repatriation. Almost half of the known casualties were never found. The remains that were recovered were sent to Hawaii for analysis. Those that could not be identified or associated with one of the missing were buried as Unknowns at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, also known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu, including one set designated Tarawa Unknown X-228. None of the recovered remains could be associated with Waltz, and, in October 1949, a Board of Review declared him “non-recoverable.”
In 2009, History Flight, Inc., a nonprofit organization, discovered a burial site on Betio Island believed to be Cemetery 33, a primary burial site for those killed on Betio, which has been the site of numerous excavations ever since. In 2013, possible human remains were found and were turned over to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, a DPAA predecessor.
On March 27, 2017, DPAA disinterred Tarawa Unknown X-228 from the Punchbowl for identification as part of an effort to identify the Tarawa Unknowns buried there. Scientific analysis determined that elements of the History Flight turnover were associated with X-228.
To identify Waltz’s remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis and material evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.
Waltz’s name is recorded in the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl along with the others missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
Waltz will be buried Sept. 27, 2021, in Armona, California.
For family and funeral information, contact the Marine Corps Casualty Office at (800) 847-1597.
DPAA is grateful to the Republic of Kiribati and the Department of Veterans Affairs and appreciative to History Flight, Inc., for their partnership in this mission.
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 https://www.linkedin.com/company/defense-pow-mia-accounting-agency.
Waltz’s personnel profile can be viewed at