Remains of World War II Marine Return to SoCal – NBC Los Angeles

on Mar23
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A Marine from Los Angeles who was killed in November 1943 during combat in World War II was honored Tuesday with a procession as his remains were returned to Southern California.

U.S. Marine Private Jacob Cruz was killed in action Nov. 22, 1943 while he faced battle with Japanese forces on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands.  Cruz died on the third day of a battle that left about 1,000 Marines and sailors dead and more than 2,000 wounded.

He was 18 years old. 

Cruz was reported to be buried on the island in Row D of the East Division Cemetery, later renamed Cemetery 33. In 2019, archaeologists with the nonprofit History Flight located remains and turned them over for identification, which confirmed one set to be those of Private Cruz.

The remains were returned to the United States Tuesday morning when a flight arrived at LAX.  They were transported to a mortuary in Montebello in a procession that included veterans and a salute from law enforcement officers.

Cruz’s name is in the Court of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicated he has been found.

Private Cruz served in Company D, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division.

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