PFC Michael Kocopy

PFC Michael Kocopy

Chester, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death 20 Nov 1943 (aged 20)
Tarawa, Gilbert Islands, Kiribati
Burial Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA
Memorial ID 202724999 · View Source
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Marine Corps PFC Michael Kocopy, killed during World War II, will be laid to rest on January 20, 2020 at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

PFC Kocopy was with his brothers in Echo Company, 2nd Battalion of the 2nd Marines (E-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 of the "Battle of Tarawa") when young Mike - just 20 years old - perished. He was reportedly buried in the Central Division Cemetery on Betio Island.

Having a loved one away during the holidays is always trying; however, having a son 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.

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

In March of 2014, PFC Kocopy's surviving family was found and put in contact with the Marine Corps POW/MIA Section through whom his niece, Stephanie Archer, lovingly submitted her DNA praying that one day her dear Uncle Mike would be found.

In 2014, History Flight, Inc., a nonprofit organization, identified a site correlated with Cemetery 26. Excavations of the site uncovered multiple sets of remains, which were turned over to Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) in 2015, where they were subsequently accessioned to the DPAA laboratory.

The DPAA announced on September 9, 2019 "Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Michael Kocopy, 20, of Gardendale, Pennsylvania, killed during World War II, was accounted for on Aug. 27, 2019". To identify Kocopy's remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis based on Steph's donation.

Michael Kocopy's name is permenantly inscribed within Court 4 of the Courts of the Missing ( 56113279 , a cenotaph) at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate that Michael has finally been found.

Jennifer Morrison, volunteer forensic genealogist
DPAA Release No: 19-170 (Sept. 9, 2019/Nov. 6, 2019)

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  • Created by: JSMorrison
  • Added: 4 Sep 2019
  • Find A Grave Memorial 202724999
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for PFC Michael Kocopy (26 Jan 1923–20 Nov 1943), Find A Grave Memorial no. 202724999, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by JSMorrison (contributor 47978427) Burial Details Unknown.