March 17, 2017 —
Marine Corps Reserve Pvt. Donald S. Spayd, unaccounted for from World War II, has now been identified.
In November 1943, Spayd was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 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. Spayd died sometime on the first day of battle, Nov. 20, 1943.
In June 2015, a nongovernmental organization, History Flight, Inc., notified DPAA that they discovered a burial site on Betio Island and recovered the remains of what they believed were 35 U.S. Marines who fought during the battle in November 1943. The remains were turned over to DPAA in July 2015.
Laboratory analysis and circumstantial evidence were used in the
identification of his remains.
DPAA is grateful to History Flight, Inc., for this recovery mission.
Interment services are pending.
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