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Oklahoma Marine's remains buried at Arlington 73 years after death in WWII

Pallbearers with the 3rd Marine Regiment escort a casket of remains on July 25, 2015 during a repatriation ceremony in Tarawa, Kiribati. The remains of approximately 36 Marines who fought and died during the Battle of Tarawa in World War II were honored before being transported back to the United States for proper identification and final burial.

MATTHEW J. BRAGG/U.S. MARINE CORPS

By RICK GREEN | The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City | Published: July 14, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (Tribune News Service) — The remains of a 19-year-old U.S. Marine from Oklahoma City were buried with full military honors Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery. The burial was almost 73 years after he died in battle.

Gov. Mary Fallin ordered flags on state property to be flown at half-staff in honor of Pvt. Robert J. Carter.

In June 2015, a burial site with remains of 35 Marines was discovered on Betio Island in the Tarawa Atoll in the Central Pacific.

A U.S. Defense Department agency analyzed dental and chest X-rays along with other records and evidence to identify Carter.

He was one of 400,000 American servicemen who died in World War II.

Carter was assigned to Company G, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on Betio.

"Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated," according to a Defense Department news release.

Carter died around Nov. 20, 1943.

"The battle of Tarawa was a huge victory for the U.S. military because the Gilbert Islands provided the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet a platform from which to launch assaults on the Marshall and Caroline Islands to advance their Central Pacific Campaign against Japan," the release said.

Efforts were made in 1946 and 1947 to recover remains found in battlefield cemeteries, but Carter's body would remain undiscovered for seven decades.

There are still more than 73,000 Americans unaccounted for from World War II, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, which has a mission of providing "the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel to their families and the nation."

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Pvt. Robert J. Carter
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CARTER FAMILY

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