On July 29, 2014, Marine Corps PFC Randolph Allen, 19, killed in World War II, was finally laid to rest - in American soil - with full military honors.
Born March 24, 1924, in Rush, Kentucky, Randolph was the only son and youngest of seven children blessed to the union of George Ballard and Susie (nee Smith) Allen.
Randolph was just 17 years old when Mr Allen succumbed to his son's pleas and signed his form permitting him to join the Corps.
Private First Class Allen was with his brothers in Foxtrot Company, 2nd Battalion of the 2nd Marines (F-2/2) when they landed on Betio as part of Operation: GALVANIC. The mission of the 2nd Marine Division 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 20th (D-Day for the "Battle of Tarawa"), when young Randolph - just 19 years old - perished. He was reportedly soon buried on Betio Island - a temporary location chosen by his fellow Marines, the survivors of the battle, until the Fallen could be recovered and returned to their families.
Having a loved one away from home during the holidays is always trying; however, having a son or husband off fighting in the war left the whole family on edge. The fact that this battle took place just before Thanksgiving meant that most of the families, who had unknowingly earned their Gold Star, would receive their heart-wrenching telegrams on Christmas Eve – some Christmas Day or even New Years Day.
For his service and sacrifice, Randolph's parents accepted his awards and decorations, including:
- Purple Heart
- Combat Action Ribbon
- World War II Victory Medal
- American Campaign Medal
- Marine Corps Presidential Unit Citation
- Asiatic-Pacific Theater Campaign Medal
- Marine Corp Expeditionary Medal, and
- Gold Star Lapel Button.
Also left to mourn his passing were sisters, Annette (Mrs James Russell Savage), Hester Jo (Mrs Julius McGranahan), Sallie Margaret (Mrs Allen P. Masters), Willa Belle (Mrs George Richmond Tussey), Francis (Mrs Thurman Stanley) and Madie Katherine (Mrs Adkins).
Despite the heavy casualties suffered by U.S. forces, military success in the battle of Tarawa was a huge victory for the U.S. military because the Gilbert Islands provided the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet a platform from which to launch assaults on the Marshall and Caroline Islands to advance their Central Pacific Campaign against Japan.
In the immediate aftermath of the fighting on Tarawa, U.S. service members who died in the battle were buried in a number of battlefield cemeteries on the island. In 1946 and 1947, the 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company conducted remains recovery operations on Betio, but PFC Allen's remains were not recovered. In, 1949, a military review board declared Randolph "non-recoverable".
From Nov. 12-27, 2013, History Flight excavated what was believed to be a war time fighting position on the island of Betio. During this excavation they recovered five sets of remains, personal effects and military equipment. Four sets of remains were determined to be Japanese service members and the fifth set was believed to be that of a U.S. Marine. Two sets of military identification tags which correlated to Allen were also found in the fighting position. Those remains were later turned over to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC, now the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency) for analysis.
On June 17, 2014, JPAC officially identified PFC Allen and his family soon received a call from the Marine Corps POW/MIA Section with the good news. JPAC had identified his remains based on circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools such as dental and skeletal comparison, which matched Allen's enlistment records.
Randolph was finally returned to his family and, on July 29, 2014, laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.
His family later had a memorial marker placed near his family at Rose Hill Burial Park and Mausoleum in Ashland, Kentucky (200057093, a cenotaph).
Marine Corps Private First Class Randolph Allen is memorialized on the the following monuments:
- Boyd County War Memorial (131884433, a cenotaph).
- Court 2 of the "Courts of the Missing" within the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific's Honolulu Memorial. A rosette has been placed next to his name indicating that Randolph has finally been found (56113951, a cenotaph).
Marine Corps POW/MIA Section
American Battle Monuments Commission
JPAC/DPMO (now DPAA) Release No: 14-024 (July 21, 2014)
Jennifer Morrison, independent volunteer forensic genealogist
RANDOLPH / ALLEN
PFC / US MARINE CORPS / WORLD WAR II
MAR 24 1924 / NOV 20 1943