Military digging up WWII battle remains from Hawaii cemetery

Updated: Mar. 29, 2017 at 5:08 AM HST
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Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) - Military and Veterans Affairs officials are digging up the remains of dozens of unidentified Marines and sailors killed on a remote atoll in the Pacific during one of World War II's bloodiest battles.

The 94 servicemen were killed in the Battle of Tarawa in 1943 and buried as unknowns at a national cemetery in Honolulu after the war. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency spokeswoman Maj. Natasha Waggoner says advances in DNA technology have increased the probability of identifying the unknowns.

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific spokesman Gene Maestas says the disinterments began in October. The cemetery expects to transfer the last eight servicemen to the military next Monday.

More than 990 U.S. Marines and 30 U.S. sailors were killed in the three-day battle. About 550 are still unidentified.

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