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Three-quarters of a century after dying in battle, a Tazewell County Marine is returning home

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WASHINGTON (WEEK) - The remains of a World War II Marine from Tazewell County has been found more than 75 years after he was killed in battle.

The announcement that Marine Corps Sgt. George R. Reeser, 25, of Washington was finally coming come came Thursday in a news release from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA).

Reeser was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force.

Reeser was among 1,000 Marines killed November 22, 1943 on the third day of intense fighting against Japanese resistance on the island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands.

Three years after Reeser was buried there, the remains were ordered to come back to the U.S., but no recovered remains could be associated with him. A Board of Review in October 1949 declared him "non-recoverable. "

In March 2019, the nonprofit History Flight Inc. said it found a previously undiscovered burial site.

The remains recovered there were transferred to the DPAA Laboratoy at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. It was there that officials said scientists identified Reeser using dental and anthropological analysis, in addition to material and circumstantial evidence.

Reeser's name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the National
Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific along with the others still missing from
World War II. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has
been accounted for.

Sgt. Reeser is returning home and will be buried September 26 in Deer Creek.

Howard Packowitz

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