SHREVEPORT — A 24-year-old Marine who was killed in one of the bloodiest battles of World War II will be buried Sept. 15 in Louisiana.
Marine Maj. Tim Kronjaeger said the remains recently were identified as those of Cpl. Raymond Clark Snapp of Bonita, Texas. He was killed on Nov. 20, 1943, on the first day of the Battle of Tarawa in the Pacific.
His remains had been among hundreds of unidentified Tarawa casualties in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Oahu, Hawaii. Ninety-four were exhumed earlier this year for possible identification.
Kronjaeger told The Times of Shreveport that Snapp was identified in July.
He said Snapp’s closest living relative is in Shreveport, Louisiana, and Snapp will be buried in the Northwest Louisiana Veterans Cemetery in Keithville. He said the relative did not want to be identified, and more distant relatives also live in Bonita, Saint Jo and Nocona, Texas.
Snapp was born Sept. 8, 1919, and enlisted in the Marine Corps at age 22. He was assigned to Foxtrot Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, which landed on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands in an attempt to secure the remote atoll against Japanese resistance.
More than 990 U.S. Marines and 30 U.S. sailors were killed in the three-day battle, Maj. Natasha Waggoner, spokeswoman for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, said when the agency described the exhumation of Snapp and 93 others killed at Tarawa earlier this year. She said about 550 were still unidentified, including some still in Tarawa.
The atoll is about 2,300 miles (3,700 kilometers) southwest of Honolulu and today is part of the Republic of Kiribati.
During the U.S. amphibious assault on Tarawa 74 years ago, Japanese machine gun fire killed scores of Marines when their boats got
stuck on the reef at low tide. Americans who made it to the beach faced brutal hand-to-hand combat.
Only 17 of the 3,500 Japanese troops survived. Of 1,200 Korean slave laborers on the island, just 129 lived.
The United States quickly buried the thousands of dead. But these graves were soon disturbed as the Navy had to quickly build an airstrip to continue their push west toward Japan.
In 1947, Snapp’s remains were brought to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Oahu, Hawaii, and buried two years later in a section for unidentified remains from the Battle of Tarawa, according to information from the Marines.
Snapp’s remains will be escorted on a flight from Hawaii to Dallas shortly before the burial date. Marines, police and the Patriot Guard Riders will escort a procession with Snapp’s remains from Dallas to the Shreveport funeral home.
On Sept. 15, his remains will be escorted to the cemetery in Keithville, where a burial service will be conducted with full Marine Corps military honors.