PVT Donald Samuel Spayd

PVT Donald Samuel Spayd

Owatonna, Steele County, Minnesota, USA
Death 20 Nov 1943 (aged 19)
Tarawa, Gilbert Islands, Kiribati
Burial Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA
Plot SECTION 60 SITE 11874
Memorial ID 177670224 · View Source
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The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has announced that Marine Corps Reserve Pvt. Donald S. Spayd, accounted for on March 16, 2017, will be buried Sept. 13 in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C.

Spayd, 19, of Los Angeles, was killed during the battle of Tarawa in World War II.

In November 1943, Spayd was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, during 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, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Spayd died on the first day of battle, Nov. 20, 1943.

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 in order 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 Island, but Spayd's remains were not recovered. On Feb. 28, 1949, a military review board declared Spayd's remains non-recoverable.

In June 2015, a nongovernmental organization, History Flight, Inc., notified DPAA that they discovered a burial site on Betio Island and recovered the remains of what they believed were 35 U.S. Marines who fought during the battle in November 1943. The remains were turned over to DPAA in July 2015.

To identify Spayd's remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA analysis, which matched his family; laboratory analysis, including dental analysis and anthropological comparison, which matched Spayd's records; as well as circumstantial and material evidence.

DPAA is appreciative to History Flight, Inc., and their partnership for this recovery mission.

Link - Governor and First Lady Honor Marine Reserve Pvt. Donald S. Spayd
Link - DPAA News Release (08.Sep.2017)
Link - DPAA Recent News & Stories (17.Mar.2017)

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  • Created by: JSMorrison
  • Added: 23 Mar 2017
  • Find A Grave Memorial 177670224
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for PVT Donald Samuel Spayd (26 Nov 1923–20 Nov 1943), Find A Grave Memorial no. 177670224, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by JSMorrison (contributor 47978427) .