The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that Marine Corps Sgt. Fred Farris, 19, of Hillsboro, Texas, killed during World War II, was accounted for on April 14, 2020.
In November 1943, Farris was a member of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 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, while the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Farris died on the first day of battle, Nov. 20, 1943. He was reported to have been buried in Cemetery 10.
In 1946, the 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company centralized all of the American remains found on Tarawa at Lone Palm Cemetery for later repatriation. However, almost half of the known casualties were never found. Of those found, many were sent to facilities in Hawaii for further identification, but more than 90 sets of unidentifiable remains were interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP) in Honolulu. No recovered remains could be associated with Farris, and, in October 1949, a Board of Review declared him “non-recoverable.”
In May 2016, construction workers on Betio Island discovered possible human remains, and contacted History Flight, Inc., a nonprofit organization excavating American cemetery sites on the island. History Flight recovered the remains and investigated the site further, discovering additional remains and evidence confirming the site to be Cemetery 10. The remains were transferred to the DPAA Laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
On November 7, 2016, DPAA disinterred Tarawa Unknown X-234 from the NMCP. Scientific analysis revealed elements of the History Flight turnover from Cemetery 10 were associated with X-234.
To identify Farris’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental, anthropological, and chest radiograph comparison analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.
Farris’s name is recorded in the Courts of the Missing at the NMCP along with the others still missing from World War II. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
Farris will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. The date has yet to be determined.
For family and funeral information, contact the Marine Corps Casualty Office at (800) 847-1597.
DPAA is grateful to the Republic of Kiribati 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.
Farris’s personnel profile can be viewed at https://dpaa.secure.force.com/dpaaProfile?id=a0Jt0000000XlHlEAK.