Never Forget Our Veterans Foundation works to raise awareness and funding for private efforts to find, recover, and bring home the more than 84,000 Americans listed as Missing in Action (MIA) from foreign wars around the world.
We work with non-governmental and governmental organizations alike, and draw on our network of contacts in corporate, political, military, non-military, and other communities in the U.S. and abroad to advocate for changes in policies and procedures that make recovery work less cumbersome and less costly for organizations conducting field work.
We have an overpowering sense of debt and duty to the missing, and only when we stop searching will they be forgotten. For this reason, we will never give up the search.
Tarawa Atoll - Republic of Kiribati
Since 2010, our team has supported efforts on Tarawa Atoll by History Flight, Inc., a non-governmental organization dedicated to finding, recovering, and repatriating America's war dead to American soil, in cooperation with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), a joint task force within the United States Department of Defense (DOD) whose mission is "to provide the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel to their families and the nation."
To date, History Flight's Tarawa Recovery Project has recovered the remains of approximately 100 individuals and transferred them back to DPAA's custody for identification at their laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii. The remains of several Japanese individuals have also been recovered and transferred back to the government of Japan.
History of the Battle of Tarawa
The Battle of Tarawa (code named Operation Galvanic) was a battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II, fought between the United States and Japan, from November 20 to November 23, 1943. It took place on Betio, the far western islet of Tarawa Atoll in the Republic of Kiribati, an area encompassing less than two square miles. The 76 hour long battle resulted in the deaths of nearly 4,700 Japanese defenders and Korean slave laborers, and 1,113 United States Marines. An additional 2,290 Marines were wounded in action.
For a closer look at the battle please watch With the Marines at Tarawa, a 1944 short documentary film directed by Louis Hayward and featuring authentic battle footage shot by Norm Hatch, a Marine and pioneering combat photographer.
Video courtesy of U.S. National Archives.
Above: Scenes from MIA recovery work and the transfer of remains by the United States Marine Corps.
Photos courtesy of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command.
South Tarawa, the capital of Kiribati, is one of the most densely populated places in the world. Its total land area of just six square miles is home to more than 50,000 people. About half of them live in Betio, where services for water, sewer, and sanitation are nearly non-existent and the local government, which is almost entirely dependent on international aid, does not have the resources to improve the situation.
Today, where more than 3,400 brave Americans were killed or wounded, and more than 500 were buried and left behind by the U.S. Government after World War II, there exists an overlapping patchwork of war waste, trash pits, pig pens, human waste, and other refuse from one end of their final resting place to the other.
Never Forget Our Veterans Foundation believes it is absolutely imperative that the missing Americans on Tarawa be recovered. We also believe that a proper memorial in their name is just as important. For this reason, we have developed a plan for a Tarawa Environmental Living Memorial, which would honor all Americans connected to the Battle of Tarawa through humanitarian and environmental investments to improve the living conditions of the people of South Tarawa.