laid to rest
Submitted by: Headquarters Marine Corps
Identification Number: 2001817171618
Lance Cpl. John R. Lawson
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETARY, Arlington, Va. (August
17, 2001) -- On this date in 1942, two companies of Marine Raiders
attacked the Japanese on the Makin Atoll, and 30 of them didn't
Today, at Arlington National Cemetery, the Marine Corps
paid its respects with a ceremony it had been waiting and hoping to give
for 59 years.
When the Makin Raiders gave their lives, they proved
that they were "always faithful to each other, always faithful to the
Corps, and always faithful to their country," said the Commandant of the
Marine Corps, Gen. James L. Jones.
General Jones addressed a
standing-room-only crowd of approximately 700 people in Ft. Myer Chapel
during a service that preceded today's graveside ceremony.
of today draw inspiration from the 'Greatest Generation,'" Gen. Jones
said. "We learn from their courage."
General Jones recounted how
the raid lifted American morale early in the war and reassured everyone
that America was ready and willing to take the fight to the
The "fog of war" was very much a factor during the raid.
That's why 19 Marines disappeared for 57 years, nine Marines were captured
and executed, and two Marines remain missing.
The remains of all of
the Marines had seemed hopelessly lost, especially after an unsuccessful
search in the late 1940s.
However, what Gen. Jones referred to as
"the spirit of Semper Fidelis" is a two-way street. When U.S. Army
technicians got a lead in 1999 on where island natives might have buried
19 of the bodies, it was only a matter of time before this group of
missing Makin Raiders would get their belated homecoming. They had been
faithful to the Corps, and the Corps would be faithful to them.
Army's Central Identification Laboratory, with assistance from many other
government agencies, conducted exhaustive identification procedures at
Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii. Finally, the checks were complete, and
the time had come to show gratitude.
The families of six of the
Marine Raiders elected to have private burials. The remains of the other
13 Raiders arrived for burial at Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday.
A Marine Corps KC-130 transport plane flew the remains from Hawaii to
Edwards Air Force Base in Maryland.
The Marine Band, more popularly
known as "The President's Own," and a detachment of Marines from the
Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. participated in a ceremony on the
"Thank God they're home," said Col. Joe Griffith, USMC
(Ret.). Colonel Griffith is the oldest surviving participant of the Makin
raid. He had just been promoted to captain at the time of the
Colonel Evans Carlson was the architect behind the Marine
Raider concept as well as the raid on Makin. His son, Evans Carlson, who
retired as a Marine colonel, also attended Thursday's tarmac
"I'm awfully glad to be here," Col. Carlson said. "For
me, it's a very moving experience."
Colonel Carlson said his famous
father would have been pleased as well. "Dad regretted every casualty,
however they were caused, wherever they occurred," he said. "His feelings
about this were extremely strong."
Friday's ceremony, which also
featured the Marine Band and a detachment from the Marine Barracks,
showcased the appreciation the Corps has for its fallen warriors.
21-gun salute climaxed the ceremony for these Marines: Capt. Gerald P.
Holtom, Palo Alto, Calif.; Sgt. Clyde Thomason Atlanta, Ga.; FM1 Vernon L.
Castle, Stillwater, Okla.; Cpl. Daniel A. Gaston, Galveston, Texas; Cpl.
Edward Maciejewski, Chicago, Ill.; Cpl. Robert B. Pearson, Lafayette,
Calif.; Pfc. William A. Gallagher, Wyandotte, Mich.; Pfc. Kenneth M.
Montgomery, Eden, Wis.; Pfc. John E. Vandenberg, Kenosha, Wis.; Pvt.
Carlyle O. Larson, Glenwood, Minn.; Pvt. Robert B. Maulding, Vista,
Calif.; Pvt. Franklin M. Nodland, Marshalltown, Iowa; and Pvt. Charles A.
Selby, Ontonagon, Mich.
Sergeant Thomason distinguished himself
during the raid as the first enlisted Marine to earn the Medal of Honor in
World War II.
Melvin D. Heckt, the president of the United States
Marine Raider Association, had these words for the Raiders lost during the
attack: "We salute you, comrades. We salute you as Raiders, as Marines, as
Americans, as men."