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Remains of Marine killed in Battle of Tarawa return to Pennsylvania

Members of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) carry a transfer case during a repatriation ceremony for service members missing in action from the battle of Tarawa, Republic of Kiribati, July 25, 2017.

BILL DASHER/U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT

By DAVID SINGLETON | The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa. | Published: January 4, 2018

SCRANTON, Pa. (Tribune News Service) — A long journey home is nearly complete for a Marine from West Scranton who died in combat in the Pacific in World War II.

The remains of Pfc. Harold Patrick Hannon, who was 28 years old when he was killed Nov. 20, 1943, during the Battle of Tarawa, will be returned to the city on Wednesday, with a funeral Mass and burial to follow three days later.

His nephew, Jefferson Twp. resident Bill Hannon, 76, said the family is happy his uncle, who went by the nickname Tidley, finally will receive a memorial and burial befitting a young American who gave his life for his country, even if it was more than 74 years ago.

“In itself, it solves a lot of mysteries,” he said. “There was a lot of misinformation through the years about what actually happened to him.”

Tidley Hannon grew up in the city’s Bellevue section, the son of the late Albert and Catherine Kerrigan Hannon. He was one of nine Hannon children, all now deceased.

He was among 1,100 Americans killed during 72 hours of fighting at Tarawa, a small atoll in the central Pacific that was heavily fortified by the Japanese.

After the battle, it is believed he was buried near where he fell on the tiny island of Betio and then reinterred in a military cemetery on the island, where the location of his grave was lost until early 2017.

That is when History Flight Inc., a nonprofit organization that began searching in 2007 for the unrecovered remains of more than 500 servicemen killed at Tarawa, found 24 sets of remains in an area outside the cemetery’s recorded boundaries.

The remains were taken to the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii, where Tidley Hannon’s remains were identified through dental records. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency notified Bill Hannon of the positive identification in early October.

On Wednesday, Bill Hannon will lead a small family contingent to Philadelphia International Airport to receive the remains and accompany them back to Scranton.

Calling hours will be Friday, Jan. 12, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Neil W. Regan Funeral Home, 1900 Pittston Ave., with a Mass on Saturday, Jan. 13, at 11 a.m. at Nativity of Our Lord Church at St. John Neumann Parish, 633 Orchard St. Burial will follow at Cathedral Cemetery, where Tidley Hannon will be laid to rest near his parents.

Emily Hannon Hecei, Tidley Hannon’s grandniece who lives at Warren in northwest Pennsylvania, said more than 40 family members, many from out of town, are expected for the funeral. They will include retired or active duty members of all four branches of the military: Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

Other relatives or people who knew the Hannon family in Bellevue, or those who just want to pay their respects to the fallen Marine, are welcome to call at the funeral home, Hecei said.

Contact the writer: dsingleton@timesshamrock.com

©2018 The Times-Tribune (Scranton, Pa.)
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