American Veteran’s Remains Return Home at Last from the WW2 War in the Pacific

Private Frank Penna was killed in the Pacific Ocean theater during World War II.  His remains were found nearly a year ago in an unmarked grave on the Tarawa atoll.

The tiny Tarawa Atoll sits in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, part of the Gilbert Islands of Micronesia. Between November 20 and November 23, 1943, the Americans fought a brutal battle to take the Atoll from the Japanese, who had occupied it since December of 1941.

American forces had, up til this point, faced little resistance to their Amphibious landings during the Pacific Campaign. At Tawara, for the first time, they faced a strong and determined Japanese resistance. 4500 troops of the Empire of Japan held the Atoll against the Americans.

The fighting was hard. The Japanese were fanatical in their defense. It is said that they fought almost to the last man. It took the Americans three days to take the Atoll, and they when they had done so, it was at the cost of almost 1,700Americans killed, and more than 2000 Americans wounded. Close to 5000 Imperial Japanese soldiers died in the Battle. The US Marines had taken terrible losses, but they had achieved their objective.

The Pentagon announced last week that the remains had been identified as Private Frank Penna’s.

The 24-year-old Marine was among the Marines and sailors that were killed in the assault on the Japanese-controlled island in November of 1943, Observer-Dispatch reported.

His remains were returned home on Thursday, last week. On Saturday, family members, including his last surviving sibling, gathered for a Funeral Mass at St. Agatha’s Church in Canastota. His Burial was followed with full military honors at the family plot in Central New York.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE