Remains of WII Indiana Marine Identified After 77 Years, Repatriated

A U.S. Marine from Albany, Indiana, who was killed in battle on a Pacific island during World War II is being repatriated and will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Charles D. Miller’s remains had been recovered and identified after 77 years.

Miller, 19, was killed in action in November, 1943 on the third day of the battle for the island of Betio in Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, according to The Star Press.

When the military centralized all of the American remains found on Tarawa at Lone Palm Cemetery, nearly half of the known casualties were never found, including Miller. In October 1949, a board of review declared him “non-recoverable.”

However, a burial site on Betio Island where Miller’s remains and others were unearthed was discovered by History Flight, Inc., a nonprofit group, in 2009.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced that it had identified Miller’s remains in May using dental and anthropological evidence, DNA from his niece, Suzanne Omtvedt and other evidence. 

Omvedt, who was born after Miller’s death, recalled that her family sometimes talked about what an avid athlete he had been before the war. She said she’s grateful her late uncle will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

“I felt in my heart that he needed to be in Arlington. It is such an honor to be there,” said Omvedt, whose father, Charles Wilson, served in the Air Force and was also buried in Arlington.

A rosette indicating that Miller has been accounted for will be placed next his name on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

Holiday greetings from Admiral Nimitz, Tarawa; National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Tex.

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