WASHINGTON (WTHR) — The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced Friday that a Richmond, Indiana Marine killed in World War II has been accounted for and is coming home.
Pfc. Louis Wiesehan, Jr. was 20 when he was killed in November 1943, while serving as a member of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division.
According to a release from the Pentagon, Wiesehan's unit landed on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands and faced stiff Japanese resistance in their attempts to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, while the Japanese were virtually annihilated.
Wiesehan was killed on the second day of the battle, Nov. 21, 1943. His remains were reportedly buried in Division Cemetery on Betio Island.
In 1946, the 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company centralized all of the American remains found on Tarawa at Lone Palm Cemetery for later repatriation; however, almost half of the known casualties were never found, and no recovered remains could be associated with Wiesehan.
In October 1949, a Board of Review declared him "non-recoverable."
But in 2014, History Flight, Inc., a nonprofit organization, located Cemetery 27 and excavations of the site uncovered multiple sets of remains, which were turned over to DPAA in 2015.
To identify Wiesehan's remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis, as well as material evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 72,639 service members still unaccounted for from World War II with approximately 30,000 assessed as possibly recoverable.
Wiesehan's name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others killed or lost in World War II. A rosette will now be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
Wiesehan will be buried April 18, 2020, in Richmond.