Seventy-two years after he died in a World War II battle and two years after his remains were found, a U.S. Marine from Long Island was buried Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery.
Marine Cpl. Walter Critchley attended Valley Stream High School in the 1930s after his family moved from his native New Rochelle and before they relocated to New Jersey, according to the New York Daily News. He was 24 when he was among 1,000 US soldiers and sailors killed in the Battle of Tarawa in November 1943.
Critchley, who was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, was among 35 solders’ whose remains were found in June 2015 by a non-government organization called History Flight at a battleground burial site on Betio Island, part of the Gilbert Islands in the Pacific, according to the Department of Defense.
The Pentagon identified his remains earlier this year. He was given full military honors upon his burial.
Despite the heavy casualties suffered by American forces, the battle was a victory for the US military because the Gilbert Islands provided the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet a platform from which to launch assaults on the Marshall and Caroline Islands to advance their campaign against Japan, the Pentagon said.
Of 400,000 US service members killed in WWII, nearly 73,000 are still missing and an estimated 26,000 are considered still recoverable.