ARLINGTON, Va. — Pfc. Randolph Allen of Rush, Ky., 19 years old, was among the more than 1,000 Marines who were killed during three days of intense fighting to capture the tiny island of Betio from the Japanese during World War II.
For seven decades, his body lay undiscovered along with about 500 of his fellow Marines and thousands of Japanese fighters who died in the Battle of Tarawa in 1943, their remains scattered across an overpopulated and impoverished dot in the Pacific.
(Note: My grandfather, 1st Lt. Alexander Bonnyman Jr., posthumously received the Medal of Honor after he was killed at Tarawa on Nov. 22, 1943; his remains are among those still missing.)
But last fall, Private Allen’s remains were unearthed and identified by the Florida-based nonprofit group, History Flight, and on Tuesday he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.
“Joe’s mother kept a picture of Randolph Allen on her fireplace on the mantle for her entire life,” said Mark Noah, an airline pilot and the founder of History Flight, the group that recovered Private Allen’s remains. “That was an unanswered question in their family history that they always wanted answered.”