Feds urged to recover Marines killed in WWII battle
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    Exclamation Feds urged to recover Marines killed in WWII battle

    Feds urged to recover Marines killed in WWII battle
    From wire service reports
    Daily Breeze
    Posted:09/15/2009 10:26:27 PM PDT

    The county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday announced a plan to urge the Department of Defense to recover the bodies of hundreds of Marines killed in the World War II battle of Tarawa, left in temporary graves where they fought and died more than 65 years ago.

    The unanimous vote to send a letter to Congressional representatives, seeking legislation and funding for a recovery effort, came in tandem with the presentation of an honorary scroll to Leon Cooper.

    Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky asked the board to bestow the honor and proposed the letter.

    Cooper is a veteran of the Tarawa campaign and five other Pacific battles, including Iwo Jima. His documentary, "Return to Tarawa: The Leon Cooper Story," narrated by Ed Harris, calls on the U.S. government to honor the memory of the dead who fought on Red Beach in Tarawa.

    "Our government has done nothing since 1943 to recover and repatriate these brave Americans who gave their lives in defense of our freedom," Cooper stated.

    During 76 hours of combat, 1,106 Marines were killed and 2,200 wounded. Of those killed, 118 were buried at sea, 88 were listed as missing in action and the remainder were buried in temporary graves.

    The Department of Defense acknowledges that 25,000 to 30,000 bodies of men "missing in action" are recoverable, but fewer than 100 are brought home each year, Cooper said.


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