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World War II remains identified as California Marine

July 29, 2021 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Remains of a serviceman killed in a World War II battle in the Pacific have been identified as a Marine from California’s Central Coast, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced Thursday.

Pfc. Royal L. Waltz, 20, of Cambria was accounted for in May 2019 but the announcement was delayed until after a recent briefing of relatives.

In 1943, Waltz was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 18th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, which encountered stiff Japanese resistance while taking the island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands.

Approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded in several days of fighting. The dead were buried in battlefield cemeteries and recovered between 1946 and 1947.

All of the remains from Tarawa were taken to a laboratory in Hawaii and by 1949 those that remained unidentified were interred as unknowns in Honolulu’s National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl.

On March 27, 2017, the DPAA disinterred a set designated Tarawa Unknown X-228 from the Punchbowl and identified Waltz through anthropological analysis, material evidence and DNA, the agency said.

Waltz will be buried at Armona, California, on a date that has not been set.