HOBART, Okla. – For more than 70 years, an Oklahoma family has wondered what happened to their loved one.
Now, an Oklahoma Marine will be laid to rest in his hometown after being killed in a battle during World War II.
In November of 1943, Marine Corps. Cpl. Claire E. Goldtrap, 21, was assigned to Company A, 2nd Amphibian Tractor Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force.
His battalion landed 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 with Japanese troops, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded. However, they were ultimately able to secure the island for the Allies.
It was a significant victory for the U.S. military because the Gilbert Islands gave the U.S. Navy a key location to launch attacks against Japan.
Immediately after the victory, U.S. service members who died in the battle were buried in several battlefield cemeteries on the island. A few years after the end of World War II, groups attempted to identify all of the remains.
By 1949, the remains that were not identified were interred in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.
Goldtrap’s family learned that although there were reports that he was killed during the first battle on the island, his remains had not been recovered.
In October of 2016, the remains that weren’t identified were sent again to a laboratory for analysis. Through the latest analysis, researchers were able to identify Goldtrap’s remains through dental and anthropological analysis.
Now, he will finally be laid to rest in his hometown.
Goldtrap will be buried in his hometown of Hobart on April 10, 2019.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war.
Currently, there are 72,741 service members who remain unaccounted for from World War II.
Goldtrap’s name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl Crater, along with the others killed or lost in WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been been found.