SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) – A Marine Sergeant killed in a battle during World War II was laid to rest in San Diego Tuesday - on the 75th anniversary of his death.
During World War II over 400,000 service members' lives were lost, and of those, 72,000 went unaccounted for or have never been identified.
One U.S. Marine Corps member unaccounted for was Sergeant Millard Odom. But decades after his death, his remains were finally identified through DNA testing.
His remains on Monday made the final journey home to San Diego. He was laid to rest at Miramar National Cemetery on Tuesday.
Sgt. Odom’s remains were only recently known as X273 as part of the "Tarawa unknown" at the Schofield Barracks Central Identification Laboratory in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The battle for the Island of Tarawa during WWII, which was part of the Japanese outer defense line, lasted more than 72 hours. Bombardment started from U.S. Navy ships, which was then followed by air strikes and then again with artillery from the big Navy guns.
Marines then made their way on shore in fierce fighting – taking heavy casualties. The fighting to take the island lasted non-stop for three days. More than 2,000 Marines and sailors were wounded and over 1,000 died in the battle.
Odom’s remains were recovered from Tarawa in 1974, but were unidentified and transferred to the National Memorial Cemetery of The Pacific in Honolulu.
On August 2, 2018, samples of Odom’s remains were identified by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency - which made it possible for him to finally be reunited with his family.
How Sergeant Millard Odom was identified.