WWII service member buried in his Mississippi hometown

Photo: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

SYLVARENA, Miss. (WJTV) — The remains of a Mississippi native who served the United States during World War II was finally buried in his hometown Friday.

Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Ray James was buried in  Sylvarena, Mississippi. He was 21 when he died.

Authorities said in November 1943, James 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.

After several days of intense fighting, about 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed, and more than 2,000 were wounded.

Authorities said James was killed on the first day of the battle. Service members who died in the battle were buried in some battlefield cemeteries on the island.

In 1946, the American Graves Registration Service recovered approximately 36 sets of remains originally buried in Cemetery #33, including remains designated “Unknown X-163.”  They conducted remains recovery operations on Betio, but James’ remains were not recovered.  By 1949, the remains that had not been identified were interred in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

In January 2017, sent the remains to the laboratory for analysis.

To identify James’ remains, scientists from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency used dental, anthropological and chest radiograph comparison analysis, which matched his records, as well as circumstantial and material evidence.

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