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Photos by Cpl. Liz Herrera..................................See cutlines following story.
Makin Marines depart for Arlington

By Sgt. Otto C. Pleil-Muete

  HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii - Hawaii Marines helped close a chapter in the story of the Makin Marines August 15, during a departure ceremony here. 

  Thirteen of the 19 Marine Raiders killed in combat were sent in flag-draped coffins for burial  in Arlington National Cemetery 59 years after their deaths on the Makin Atoll.  The other 6 Marine Raiders were sent to their respective hometowns several months earlier for individual burials, upon their family’s request. 

  Several guests attended the ceremony, including guest speaker U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye and Brig. Gen. John Castellaw, Deputy Commander, Marine Forces Pacific. 

  “Fifty-nine years ago, two companies of the 2d Raider Battalion staged a daring raid on Makin Island,” said Inouye during his speech.  “They succeeded in their mission objectives.  The raid also succeeded in lifting the spirit of the American people.  It revived our nation’s patriotism and garnered support for our troops.”

  Marines from MCB Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay and Camp H.M. Smith stood in formation and saluted as funeral details escorted all 13 coffins into the KC-130 Hercules from Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152.  Marine bagpiper 1st Lt. Justin Stodghill, set the mood with a solemn rendition of “Amazing Grace,” and the Marine Forces Pacific Band also played several musical pieces. 

  One family member, Terilyn Stephens, a great-niece of Cpl. Robert B. Pearson, one of the Makin Marines, was able to attend the ceremony.  According to Stephens, her grandfather, a Sailor, and Pearson, his brother, fought in World War II at the same time.  Stephens said her grandfather and his sister are awaiting their brother’s return in Washington, D.C.

  “It was an honor for me to be here and represent my family,” said Stephens.  “It’s comforting to know that the military would go through so many lengths to bring one of their lost ones home.” 

  “This ceremony today is a testament that there is no statute of limitation on honor,” said Sen. Inouye, a Medal of Honor recipient.  “It is never too late to do what is right - to accord the proper accolades upon our heroes who truly gave their all for the country they loved and died defending her honor.  A nation that forgets or fails to honor her heroes is a nation destined to oblivion.” 

The following is a list of the Marine Raiders that were honored Aug. 15. 
Sgt. Clyde Thomason, Atlanta, GA-a Medal of Honor recipient
Capt. Gerald P. Holtom, Palo Alto, CA
FM1C Vernon L. Castle, Stillwater, OK (Field Musician First Class)
Cpl. Daniel A. Gaston, Galveston, TX
Cpl. Edward Maciejewski, Chicago, IL
Cpl. Robert B. Pearson, Lafayette, CA
Pfc. William A. Gallagher, Wyandotte, MI
Pfc. Kenneth M. Montgomery, Eden, WI
Pfc. John E. Vandegerg, Kenosha, WI
Pvt. Carlyle O. Larson, Glenwood, MN
Pvt. Robert B. Maulding, Vista, CA
Pvt. Franklin M. Nodland, Marshalltown, IA
Pvt. Charles A. Selby, Ontanagon, MI

Photo Cutlines:

Top-Left-The remains of thirteen Marines killed on Makin Island are boarded onto a KC-130 Hercules at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii for transportation to Washington D.C. where friends and family members await their return for an honorable burial. 

Top-Center-A funeral detail transports one of thirteen Marines who died in combat on Makin Island fifty-nine years ago. The ceremony took place at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii August 15, 2001. 

Top-Right-Terilyn Stephens, escorted by Maj. Chris Hughes, Public Affairs Office, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, pays tribute to her great-uncle, Cpl. Robert B. Pearson, one of thirteen Marines whose remains were returned from Makin Island after fifty-nine years.

Bottom-Left-United States Senator Daniel K. Inouye spoke of great heroism and honor attributed to the thirteen Marines whose remains were returned from Makin Island after fifty-nine years. 

Bottom-Center-Brigadier Gen. John Castellaw, Deputy Commander, Marine Forces Pacific, speaks during a repatriation ceremony held for the remains of thirteen Marines from Makin Island at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii August 15,2001. 

Bottom-Right-First Lt. Justin Stodghill, training officer for Marine Aviation Logistics Support Element Kaneohe, plays his bagpipes during a repatriation ceremony held for thirteen Marines whose remains were retrived from Makin Island after fifty-nine years. The ceremony was held at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii on August 15, 2001.