The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, unaccounted for during World War II, have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Marine Pvt. Jack M. Redman, 20, of Watseka, Ill., will be buried May 16, in his hometown. In November 1943, Redman was assigned to the Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, which landed on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll, in an attempt to secure the island against stiff Japanese resistance. Over several days of intense fighting approximately 1,000 Marines were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded. As a result of these attacks, Redman was reported killed in action on Nov. 23, 1943.
In the immediate aftermath of the fighting on Tarawa, U.S. service members who died were buried in a number of battlefield cemeteries. During World War II, U.S. Navy Combat Engineers, “SeaBees,” significantly restructured the landscape to convert the island for use by the military. In 1944, it was reported that Redman had been buried along with another service member. In 1947, the Army Grave Registration Service (AGRS) recovered remains from the island for repatriation, but Redman’s remain were not recovered. The remains that AGRS were unable to identify were buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, in Honolulu, Hawaii, known as the Punch Bowl.
In 2011, researchers were able to determine Redman was not buried in an unknown gravesite at the Punch Bowl and believed his remains may still be on Betio. In 2013, the Department of Defense (DoD) analysts located what was believed to be Redman’s grave. In September 2014, while the DoD team was excavating the suspected burial site, a local villager turned over a fragment of remains recovered nearby. This aided the team in pinpointing the location of Redman’s gravesite.
In the identification of Redman’s remains, DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including dental and skeletal comparisons, which matched Redman’s records, and mitochondrial DNA, which matched Redman’s brother.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war.
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 or call (703) 699-1420.