A Marine from Hartford, Connecticut who was killed in a battle in 1943 during World War II will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery today.
Marine Pfc. Anthony Brozyna, 22, was killed Nov. 20, 1943 during a battle with Japanese forces on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands and he was unaccounted for for 72 years until a charity organization located his remains in a battlefield cemetery.
The battle of Tarawa was considered a success for the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Defense, because the Gilbert Islands provided the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet a platform from which to launch assaults on the Marshall and Caroline Islands.
But there were heavy U.S. casualties. Almost 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded over several days of fighting.
U.S. service members who died in the battle were buried in several battlefield cemeteries on the island and recovery operations were conducted in 1946 and 1947, but Brozyna’s remains were not among those found. Two years later, a military review board declared Brozyna’s remains non-recoverable on Feb. 10, 1949.
Another 66 years passed, but History Flight, a non-profit charity that searches for missing service members from America’s wars in the 20th century, found the missing Marine's remains.
They reached out to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency in June 2015 with the news that they found 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. Scientists then discovered Brozyna’s remains were among them.
Brozyna, a member of Company G, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery today.