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SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah Marine who died during World War II was accounted for in September, the U.S. Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced Wednesday, almost 76 years after he was killed in battle.
Pfc. Robert J. Hatch, of Woods Cross, was 21 years old when he was killed on Nov. 22, 1943, fighting the Japanese on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, according to a news release.
It was the third day of the battle for the island. About 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded in the battle, according to the release.
In 1946, all the American remains found on Tarawa were centralized, but almost half the known casualties were never found. Hatch was declared “non-recoverable” in 1949.
The nonprofit organization History Flight, Inc., identified multiple sets of remains at an island cemetery in 2014 and turned them over to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. Using “dental, anthropological, and chest radiograph comparison analysis, as well as material evidence,” the agency identified Hatch’s remains, the release says.
He will be buried on Dec. 14 in Bountiful.
Hatch’s brother, Clyde, died in Guam in 1944.
More than 400,000 Americans died fighting in World War II, and the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency says 72,648 of them are still unaccounted for.