GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Marine from Grand Rapids who was killed during World War II has been accounted for, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced Friday.
Cpl. Andrew Pellerito, 22, was accounted for on Aug. 19.
Back in November 1943, Pellerito was a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, which landed against Japanese resistance on Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. It was part of a U.S. attempt to secure the islands.
Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, about 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded.
Pellerito was killed on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943.
His remains were reportedly buried in Cemetery 33.
In 1946, the 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company centralized all American remains found on Tarawa at Lone Palm Cemetery for later repatriation.
Almost half of the known casualties were never found.
The remains that were recovered were sent to Hawaii for analysis, while those that could not be identified or associated with one of the missing were buried as unknowns at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific – also known as the Punchbowl – in Honolulu, including one set designated Tarawa Unknown X-118.
None of the recovered remains could be associated with Pellerito and, in October 1949, a Board of Review declared him “non-recoverable.”
At the end of 2016, DPAA’s worked to identify the Tarawa Unknowns buried at the Punchbowl.
To identify Pellerito’s remains, scientists used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence and DNA analysis.
Pellerito will be buried on Nov. 30 in Augusta, Michigan.