PFC Kenneth William Likens

PFC Kenneth William Likens

Windsor, Essex County, Ontario, Canada
Death 22 Nov 1943 (aged 20)
Tarawa, Gilbert Islands, Kiribati
Burial Holly, Oakland County, Michigan, USA
Plot SEC 17
Memorial ID 200773073 · View Source
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Marine Corps Reserve PFC Kenneth William Likens, killed during World War II, was returned to his family and laid to rest on October 25, 2019 at Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly, Michigan with full military honors.

Kenneth was the eldest of 3 children blessed to the union of William Archibald and Gladys Viola (Pipe) Likens. On May 4, 1932, 8-year-old Kenneth left Canada with his family and immigrated to the United States - crossing from Windsor to Detroit - to their new home at 2243 Lillibridge Avenue.

After graduating from Mount Clemens High School, the 5' 8" 140 lbs, ruddy, blue eyed brunette went to work at Mt. Clemens Pottery Company. He registered for the draft on June 30, 1942.

Private First Class Likens was with his brothers in Bravo Company, 1st Battalion of the 6th Marines (B-1-6) 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 22nd (D+2 of the "Battle of Tarawa") when young Kenneth - barely 20 years old - perished. He was reported to have been buried in the East Division Cemetery, which was eventually renamed to Cemetery #33.

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 Likens, and in October 1949, a Board of Review declared him “non-recoverable.”

Left to mourn his passing were Kenneth's parents and baby sister. His squad leader, Harry Schultz, who lives in White Salmon (OR), looked for his remains after the battle.

In July of 2016, Marjorie Georgina Dolan - now 89 years old - was found and put in contact with the Marine Corps POW/MIA Section through whom she lovingly submitted her DNA praying that one day her big brother would be found.

In 2019, History Flight located and excavated a previously undiscovered burial trench and recovered human remains. Those remains were turned over to the DPAA. Using dental, anthropological and chest radiograph comparison analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence, the DPAA officially identified Kenneth William Likens on May 31, 2019.

Marine Corps PFC Kenneth W Likens’ name is permanently inscribed on Court 4 of the "Courts of the Missing" at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (56123394, cenotaph). A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate Kenneth has finally been found.

Jennifer Morrison, forensic genealogist
Marine Corps POW/MIA Section
DPAA Release No: 19-107 (July 1, 2019 & Sept. 5, 2019)

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  • Created by: JSMorrison
  • Added: 2 Jul 2019
  • Find A Grave Memorial 200773073
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for PFC Kenneth William Likens (31 Oct 1923–22 Nov 1943), Find A Grave Memorial no. 200773073, citing Great Lakes National Cemetery, Holly, Oakland County, Michigan, USA ; Maintained by JSMorrison (contributor 47978427) Burial Details Unknown.