WASHINGTON, D.C. (WCIA) — More than 70 years after a Marine died in battle, his remains have been officially identified. Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Jack B. Van Zandt of Danville is now accounted for.
Van Zandt was 22-years-old when he died on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands in World War II. He was part of Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force trying to secure the island from the Japanese. He was killed in battle on November 22, 1943, and his remains were reportedly buried in a cemetery on Betio Island. He was declared ‘non-recoverable’ after the war when the military could not find his remains.
The cemetery was excavated in 2014 by the nonprofit organization History Flight Inc and all remains were transferred to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA). Scientists used dental and anthropological analysis to identify Van Zandt.
Van Zandt will be buried in Danville at a later date.
There are still 72,641 service members unaccounted for from World War II.