Marine Killed in WW2 to be Buried in East Wenatchee Tuesday
A marine killed in World War 2 will be buried in East Wenatchee during a public funeral service Tuesday.
Gunnery Sergeant Arthur Branson Summers was killed in the Battle of Tarawa November 23rd, 1943.
Tarawa, an atoll in the South Pacific, saw a grueling three-day battle between occupying Japanese forces and the attacking Americans. Just over 1,000 American servicemen were killed in the battle, while over 2,600 Japanese troops lost their lives. Roughly 2,000 Japanese and Korean laborers are also believed to have been killed in the battle.
According to officials with History Flight, the organization responsible for finding and identifying fallen service members on Tarawa, four trenches were dug by Navy Seabees after the battle concluded. Three of the trenches, known after the fact as 'A', 'B' and 'C', were previously identified.
'Trench D' was for decades considered either lost or something that had never existed. Things were made even more difficult after the United States military placed a thick layer of coral on the atoll's islands in an effort to raise the land's sea level.
Since 2007 History Flight has been exhuming the remains of fallen service members on the island. Eventually, members of the organization were able to get permission to demolish an abandoned building and discovered the lost 'Trench D' underneath.
Summers' remains were discovered and exhumed in 2019 and brought to History Flight's forensic lab in Hawaii. On January 6th, 2020, the remains were positively identified as Gunnery Sergeant Arthur Branson Summers of the 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division.
Two of Summers' nephews were identified as his closest living relatives. David and Don McCannel are both residents of East Wenatchee and opted to have Summers reinterred locally. Summers was born Poplar, Montana.
Chapel of the Valley Funeral Director John Harrison said Summers will be buried with full honors.
"He was brought to the processing facility in Hawaii." Harrison said, "From there he traveled with a military escort from Hawaii to Dallas/Fort Worth Airport and then to SeaTac."
A Marine Corps Honor Guard then escorted Summers from the plane to Harrison's care.
Tuesday's funeral will begin with a procession that will include the Patriot Riders of America motorcycle group and local law enforcement. The procession will begin at Chapel of the Valley and continue to Evergreen Memorial Park and Mausoleum.
The service will include a Marine Honor Team from Yakima and multiple speakers. The Sons of the American Legion Mid-Columbia post from the Tri-cities will be holding a wreath laying ceremony and will host a reception following the service.
"There's a 300-page booklet that the family was provided with a lot of details including the items that he had with him." Harrison said, "Those items are going to be displayed at the service. Things like his helmet and the New Zealand coins and things that he had with him."
The funeral is open to the public and begins at 2:00 pm.
According to History Flight, there are currently over 81,900 missing American service members around the world.