Seven U.S. Marines reported missing in the Pacific during World War II will be buried as one Thursday in Arlington National Cemetery, with full military honors.
Their PBJ-1 aircraft failed to return from a night-training mission over the island of Espiritu Santo, known today as Vanuatu, on April 22, 1944, a Defense Department statement said Tuesday.
Listed as presumed dead were Marine Corps 1st Lt. Laverne A. Lallathin of Raymond, Wash.; 2nd Lt. Dwight D. Ekstam of Moline, Ill.; 2nd Lt. Walter B. Vincent, Jr. of Tulsa, Okla.; Tech. Sgt. James A. Sisney of Redwood City, Calif.; Cpl. Wayne R. Erickson of Minneapolis, Minn.; Cpl. John D. Yeager of Pittsburgh; and Pfc. John A. Donovan of Plymouth, Mich.
In 1994, the U.S. was notified by private citizens that aircraft wreckage had been found in extremely rugged mountainous terrain, the statement said. Human remains were recovered and turned over to the Defense Department.
From 2000 to 2011, multiple Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command teams excavated the site and recovered human remains, aircraft parts and military equipment, the statement said. DNA was used to identify the seven Marines.
Except for Lallathin, the Marines have been buried as individuals in other ceremonies. Partial remains from all seven will be buried in a single casket as a tribute to the group. An individual burial for Lallathin will also be held Thursday at Arlington.