Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Team Searches for Americans Lost in the Battle Of Tarawa

Monday, January 13, 2014

Tarawa World WarIITARAWA, REPUBLIC OF KIRIBATI—Archaeologist Garth Baldwin and History Flight, a nonprofit organization, have found human remains, ammunition, ID bracelets, a canteen, a pocket knife, and dog tags from the American Marines and sailors that were killed during World War II in the Gilbert Islands, at the time a strategically important British protectorate that had been captured by Japanese forces. In 1943, some 35,000 American troops and 100 warships were sent to attack the heavily fortified coral atoll surrounded by shallow water. After 76 hours of fighting, some 6,000 people were buried in shallow graves, many of which were identified by American excavation teams after the war. Baldwin and his team are looking for the nearly 500 Americans who remain missing. The remains of Japanese soldiers are handed over to the Japanese government.