PFC Jack Benson Van Zandt

Photo added by Sgt. Bellis - USMC

PFC Jack Benson Van Zandt

Rossville, Vermilion County, Illinois, USA
Death 22 Nov 1943 (aged 21)
Tarawa, Gilbert Islands, Kiribati
Burial Danville, Vermilion County, Illinois, USA
Memorial ID 116515906 · View Source
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"The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Private First Class Jack B. Van Zandt, killed during World War II, was accounted for Sept. 23, 2019.

In November 1943, Van Zandt was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands (the Battle of Tarawa), in an attempt to secure the island. Over 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. PFC Van Zandt was killed on the third day of the battle, Nov. 22, 1943. His remains were reportedly buried in East Division Cemetery on Betio Island." (Provided by SBR)

"Raised in Danville, Illinois, Jack was born October 8, 1922 - the third of 4 children blessed to the union of George Washington & Blanche Marie (Youngblood) Van Zandt.

Unlike most kids of his generation, it wasn’t the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor that drew him into the war. The 19-year-old was already in at that point, having taken a drive to Indianapolis on May 19th of the same year to enlist in the Marine Corps.

PFC Van Zandt would later find himself with his brothers in Alpha Company, 1st Battalion of the 6th Marines (A-1-6) ) when they landed on Betio. Their mission was to secure the island in order to control the Japanese airstrip in the Tarawa Atoll; thereby preventing the Japanese Imperial forces from getting closer to the United States, and enabling US forces to get closer to mainland Japan. It would become one of the bloodiest battles in the Corps history.

It was November 22nd (D-Day+2 for the "Battle of Tarawa"), when young Jack - just 21 years old - perished.

Jack's remains were reportedly buried in East Division Cemetery on Betio Island. In 1946, the 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company (604th GRC) 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 PFC Van Zandt, and in October 1949, a Board of Review declared him “non-recoverable.”

For their son’s service and sacrifice, Mr & Mrs Van Zandt received the Purple Heart; however, his body was never recovered and returned to them for burial.

In 2013, PFC Van Zandt’s family made the necessary DNA donation for the identification of his remains.

(Official DoD release will be updated following Primary Next of Kin briefing.)

On September 23, 2019, the DPAA officially announced that Louis had been accounted for. He will soon be returned to his family to be laid to rest in American soil.

A memorial marker placed by Jack's family at Sunset Memorial Park in Danville, Illinois in hopes that some day it would be his final resting place. His name is also permanently inscribed on Court 4 of the "Courts of the Missing" at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for." - Provided by Jennifer Morrison, forensic genealogist, DPAA Release No: 19-200 (Oct. 3, 2019)

"PFC Jack Benson Van Zandt, USMC - October 8, 1921 - November 22, 1943 - DANVILLE - Private First Class Jack Benson Van Zandt, United States Marine Corp, was born on Oct. 8, 1921, the third child of Blanche Marie (Youngblood) Van Zandt and George Washington Taylor Van Zandt of Danville. He was killed in the Battle of Tarawa in 1943. The description of the excavation and recovery can be read at ("The Fourth Row").

PFC Jack Benson Van Zandt is survived by several nieces, nephews, and cousins. He will be reinterred at Sunset Memorial Park in Danville, 3901 N. Vermilion St., on Dec. 17, 2019, with Full Military Honors.

Jack preceded all three of his siblings, George, Jr., Aileen Marie Van Zandt Richards, and Lois Jane Van Zandt Wright in death. Lois Wright died on Oct. 4, 2019, just two days after the family was notified that Jack's remains were recovered.

Jack grew up on the family farm in the Batestown area of Danville. He graduated from Oakwood High School in 1939. A few years after graduation, he moved to Indianapolis, Indiana where he secured a job with Eli Lilly. At a time when all young men were enlisting in the service, he asked his parents to sign papers for him to join the Marine Corp Reserves. Jack joined the Marine Reserves in May of 1942 in Indianapolis, Ind. Only a few months later, a National Emergency was declared, and he was called into action.

PFC Jack Benson Van Zandt, USMC was part of Company A, First Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, Second Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force assigned to the Pacific. His first battle was in Guadalcanal and he survived that battle. The survivors of that battle were given an extended leave in New Zealand and Australia. Then, PFC Jack Benson Van Zandt was to be part of the battle at Betio Island, Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands (now the Republic of Kiribati). Then on Nov. 22, 1943, at age 22 years, PFC Van Zandt was killed fighting for a one and ½ half by ½ mile strip of land the U.S. needed for an airstrip.

History Flights, a private, non-profit, recently uncovered 1,100 remains of long-missing U.S. personnel from the Nov. 20-23, 1943, Battle of Tarawa. With the extreme environmental conditions in the South Pacific, the servicemen's remains were hastily buried in trenches. For over seven decades, few Americans, including the families of the missing, were aware that Marines remained buried on or near Betio. Since 2007, History Flights has been actively searching for and recovering remains nearly year-round on Betio.

A Celebration of Life Service will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019, at 1 p.m. at Sunset Funeral Home and Cremation Center in Danville, 3940 N. Vermilion St., Danville, with Full Military Honors. Visitation will be held from noon to 1 p.m. prior to services at the funeral home. Reinternment will be in Sunset Memorial Park with Full Military Rites accorded by the United States Marine Corp.

If inclined, memorial contributions to the History Flights would be very welcome to help further excavations all over the world where our young men and women have fought and shed their blood to protect our freedoms. Send to: History Flights, 317 William Street, Suite 1, Fredericksburg, VA 22401, by phone at (202) 498-4447, or online at Please join PFC Jack Benson Van Zandt's family in sharing condolences, memories, and photos on his Tribute Wall at" - Published on December 11, 2019, Obituary provided by usafdo)


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  • Created by: Lesa Epperson
  • Added: 3 Sep 2013
  • Find A Grave Memorial 116515906
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for PFC Jack Benson Van Zandt (8 Oct 1922–22 Nov 1943), Find A Grave Memorial no. 116515906, citing Sunset Memorial Park, Danville, Vermilion County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Lesa Epperson (contributor 46576986) .