DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A U.S. Marine from Oelwein who died fighting a World War II battle on a Pacific Ocean island was buried at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington on Monday, the 73rd anniversary of his death.
Pfc. Wilbur Mattern, who was 23 when he died, had been unaccounted for since the 1943 battle on the Gilbert Islands, a couple thousand miles southwest of Hawaii.
Family members say they believed he had floated out to sea and would never be found.
However, the nonprofit Florida-based History Flight Inc. found a burial site on Betio island in June 2015 recovering the remains of 35 Marines. Dental comparisons and other evidence identified Mattern’s remains.