Marine PFC. Emmett L. Kines was killed in World War II at just 24 years of age. Kines, along with nearly 1,000 other soldiers, were quickly buried in a mass grave after fighting in the Battle of Tarawa. Military officials had declared his body unrecoverable in 1949, leaving his family with nothing to bury in a coffin. They thought him lost to time and the elements, and so grieved as much as they were able.
That was finally changed when a nonprofit named History Flight was able to positively identify Kines’ body, along with 34 other Marines. Through their efforts, they have estimated that 43 temporary burial sites remain around the island with hundreds of soldiers buried in each one. They have worked hard to identify MIAs and aren’t stopping any time soon.
History Flight has recovered the remains of our people lying on the forest floor, under pig sties, from a battlefield tour guide’s front porch, underwater, and in suburban neighborhoods.”
They were able to return the remains of Kines to his family’s home in West Virginia on National POW/MIA Recognition Day.Betty Huffman, Kines’ only living sibling was there to receive him, along with other family members, nearly 75 years after his death.
Huffman knew that being a Marine was something that her brother had always wanted to do, and remembers the brief time they had shared growing up on the family farm.
History Flight knows that their work is very important, and that bringing home lost soldiers is what it will take to heal very old wounds. They use advanced technology to discover the MIA loss sites at a faster pace than ever before.
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