Cartwright Funeral Homes


MACDONALD, Marine Corps PFC John William, accounted for on Aug. 15, 2016. A Prayer Service will be held on Friday, June 22, 2018 at 11:00 AM in the Cartwright Funeral Home, 69 So. Franklin St., Holbrook, followed by burial at 12:45 PM in Massachusetts National Cemetery, Connery Avenue, Bourne, MA 02532. PFC MacDonald, age 19, of Somerville, MA, was killed during the Battle of Tarawa in World War II. John was born in Somerville, April 14, 1924, son of John W. and Dorothy H. (Cowan) MacDonald. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 22 Jan 1942, was transferred to Marine Corps Base San Diego for Basic Training, and in April 1942, sailed on the USS Zielin from San Diego, CA to Pago, Pago, Tutuila, American Samoa to join F. Co 2nd Bn, 8th Marines. In November 1943, MacDonald was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, 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. MacDonald died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Despite the heavy casualties suffered by U.S. forces, military success in the battle of Tarawa was a huge victory for the U.S. 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 Central Pacific Campaign against Japan. 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. In 1946 and 1947, the 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company conducted remains recovery operations on Betio Island, but Mac Donald's remains were not recovered. On Feb. 28, 1949, a military review board declared MacDonald remains non-recoverable. In June 2015, a nongovernmental organization, History Flight, Inc., notified DPAA that they discovered a burial site on Betio Island and recovered the remains of what they believed were 35 U.S. Marines who fought during the battle in November 1943. The remains were turned over to DPAA in July 2015. To identify Mac Donald's remains, scientists from DPAA used laboratory analysis, including anthropological analysis and dental and chest radiograph comparison analysis, which matched Mac Donald's records; as well as circumstantial and material evidence. DPAA is grateful to History Flight, Inc. for their partnership in this recovery. Welcome Home, PFC MacDonald
Semper Fidelis


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