Remains of Butler County man killed during WWII finally coming home

State News

HAMILTON, Ohio — The remains of a Butler County man killed in action during World War II are finally coming home.

He will be buried with full military honors.

Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. William E. Brandenburg, 19, of New Miami, Ohio, died in battle on Nov. 22, 1943.

Brandenburg was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island.

Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated.

Brandenburg was killed in the third day of battle. His body was identified in late 2018, and now after more than 75 years, is returning home.

In the immediate aftermath of the fighting on Tarawa, U.S. service members who died in the battle were buried in a number of battlefield cemeteries on the island. Reports indicate that Brandenburg was buried in the Central Division Cemetery, later renamed to Cemetery #26. The 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company conducted remains recovery operations on Betio between 1946 and 1947, but Brandenburg’s remains were not identified.

All of the remains found on Tarawa were sent to the Schofield Barracks Central Identification Laboratory for identification in 1947. By 1949, the remains that had not been identified were interred in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu, including one set, designated Tarawa Unknown X-074.

In October 2016, military officials said they disinterred Tarawa Unknown X-074 from the NMCP for identification. He was identified soon after.

Brandenburg will be buried July 27, in Hamilton, Ohio.Funeral service will be held at Brown Dawson Flick Funeral Home, 1350 Millville Ave. at noon.

Burial with full military honors will follow at Hickory Flat Cemetery.

Visitation will be held on Saturday from 10 a.m. until noon at the funeral home.

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