DALLAS, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – A Dallas marine killed during World War II has been accounted for.
Marine Corps Reserve 2nd Lt. Ernest A. Matthews, Jr., 34 was killed on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands while attempting to secure the island. During several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 marines and sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, while the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Matthews died on the first day of battle, Nov. 20, 1943. His remains were reportedly buried in Cemetery 33.
In 1946, the 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company centralized all of the American remains found on Tarawa to Lone Palm Cemetery for later repatriation; however, almost half of the known casualties were never found. No recovered remains could be associated with Matthews, and in October 1949, a Board of Review declared him “non-recoverable.”
In March 2019, History Flight, Inc., a nonprofit organization, located Cemetery 33. Excavations of the site uncovered multiple sets of remains, which were turned over to DPAA.
To identify Matthews’ remains, scientists from DPAA used dental, anthropological, and chest radiograph comparison analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence.
Matthews will be buried Nov. 5, 2019, in San Antonio.