The commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James L. Jones, will speak at a memorial service for Marines of the 2nd Raider Battalion who were killed during a raid on Butaritari Island in 1942. The service and subsequent burial will take place at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday, Aug. 17 at 11 a.m. EDT.
The remains are those of Capt. Gerald P. Holtom, Palo Alto, Calif.; Sgt. Clyde Thomason Atlanta, Ga.; FM1 Vernon L. Castle, Stillwater, Okla.; Cpl. Daniel A. Gaston, Galveston, Texas;Cpl. Edward Maciejewski, Chicago, Ill.; Cpl. Robert B. Pearson, Lafayette, Calif.; Pfc. William A. Gallagher, Wyandotte, Mich.; Pfc. Kenneth M. Montgomery, Eden, Wis.; Pfc. John E. Vandenberg, Kenosha, Wis.; Pvt. Carlyle O. Larson, Glenwood, Minn.; Pvt. Robert B. Maulding, Vista, Calif.; Pvt. Franklin M. Nodland, Marshalltown, Iowa; and Pvt. Charles A. Selby, Ontonagon, Mich.
The families of six other Marines killed during the raid elected to have private burials. A casket containing co-mingled remains will be interred during the ceremony in addition to the 13 individual caskets.
The 19 Marines were killed during a raid on Butaritari Island, in the Makin Atoll, Aug. 17-18, 1942. They were members of the 2nd Raider Bn., a Marine unit organized and trained to conduct commando and guerrilla-style attacks behind enemy lines. The unit was led by then-Lt. Col. Evans Carlson and his second-in-command, Maj. James Roosevelt, son of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Sgt. Clyde Thomason, whose remains will be among those interred Friday, was the first enlisted Marine to earn the Medal of Honor in World War II.
During the two-day battle, the Raiders killed an estimated 83 Japanese soldiers, but their attempts to leave the island were bedeviled by a high and crashing surf and they were unable to evacuate the bodies of their fallen comrades.
In November 1999, a recovery team from the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory, Hawaii (CILHI), uncovered a mass grave on Butaritari Island and excavated the remains. The remains were transported to CILHI where an exhaustive process led to the identification of the Marines and the subsequent notification of their families.
The remains will arrive at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. An arrival ceremony will be conducted by Marines from Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. and the President's Own, United States Marine Band. For media access to the arrival at Andrews or the ceremony at Arlington, contact Marine Capt. Joseph Kloppel at (703) 614-4309.