SSGT Wesley Lee “Whitey” Kroenung, Jr

SSGT Wesley Lee “Whitey” Kroenung, Jr

St. Louis City, Missouri, USA
Death 20 Nov 1943 (aged 24)
Tarawa, Gilbert Islands, Kiribati
Burial San Diego, San Diego County, California, USA
Plot SECTION 15 | SITE 85
Memorial ID 199628407 · View Source
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Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Wesley L. Kroenung, killed during World War II, was accounted for April 16, 2019. He will be laid to rest at Miramar National Cemetery on August 14, 2019.

Wesley Lee Kroenung was the oldest of 2 children blessed to the union of Wesley Lee Sr and Ella M (Niemann) Kroenung.

"Whitey" enlisted in the Marine Corps on February 13, 1943 and trained at Marine Barracks, Camp Elliott in San Diego, California.

Kroenung was a photographer with Headquarters Company, Headquarters and Service Battalion, Fifth Amphibious Corps, temporarily assigned to the 2nd Marine Division, when they landed on Betio as part of Operation: GALVANIC. 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 20, (D-Day of the "Battle of Tarawa") when young Wesley - just 25 years old - perished.

He was reportedly buried in the 2nd Marine Division Cemetery #4.

The battle of Tarawa was a significant 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. The 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company conducted remains recovery operations on Betio between 1946 and 1947, but Kroenung’s remains were not identified. All of the remains found on Tarawa were sent to the Schofield Barracks Central Identification Laboratory for identification in 1947. By 1949, the remains that had not been identified were interred as unknowns in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu, including one set, designated as Tarawa Unknown X-103.

On November 7, 2016, 2017, DPAA disinterred Tarawa Unknown X-103 from the NMCP for identification. Shortly after, DPAA disinterred one set of remains, designated Tarawa Unknown X-104B from Cemetery #33. The remains were consolidated and sent to the laboratory for analysis.

To identify Kroenung’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.

DPAA is grateful to the Department of Veterans Affairs and for their partnership in this mission.

Jennifer Morrison, forensic genealogist
DPAA Release No: 19-070 (June 27, 2019)

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  • Created by: JSMorrison
  • Added: 31 May 2019
  • Find A Grave Memorial 199628407
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for SSGT Wesley Lee “Whitey” Kroenung, Jr (24 May 1919–20 Nov 1943), Find A Grave Memorial no. 199628407, citing Miramar National Cemetery, San Diego, San Diego County, California, USA ; Maintained by JSMorrison (contributor 47978427) Burial Details Unknown.