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Illinois Marine killed during WWII returning for burial

Tech. Sgt. Harry Carlsen, 31, of Brookfield, Illinois was accounted for on June 4, 2018 and will be buried October 13, in Elwood, Illinois.

DEFENSE POW/MIA ACCOUNTING AGENCY

By ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: October 9, 2018

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. — Relatives of a Chicago-area Marine killed during World War II are welcoming his body back after 75 years being buried in Hawaii as an unknown serviceman.

Military officials say DNA tests helped confirm the identity of Marine Corps Tech. Sgt. Harry Carlsen of Brookfield, who was 31 when he was killed while storming a Japanese stronghold in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands.

Carlson was assigned to Company A, 2nd Amphibian Tractor Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, according to a Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency news release. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded. Carlson died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943.

In the immediate aftermath of the fighting, servicemembers who died were buried in cemeteries on the island. Remains were recovered between 1946 and 1947, but not all were identified. After being sent on to Schofield Barracks Central Identification Laboratory for identification, all unidentified remans were interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

Ed Spellman of St. Charles tells the Daily Herald that a phone call came of the blue in July that his great-uncle's body had been identified. He says his mother donated DNA in 2008 for the identification, but she died in 2012.

Carlsen's relatives plan on meeting his casket Wednesday at O'Hare International Airport. He'll be buried Saturday at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery near Joliet.

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