1LT Justin Green “Tex / Buddy” Mills

1LT Justin Green “Tex / Buddy” Mills

Houston, Harris County, Texas, USA
Death 20 Nov 1943 (aged 25)
Tarawa, Gilbert Islands, Kiribati
Burial Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA
Memorial ID 202731585 · View Source
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Marine Corps Reserve 1st Lt. Justin G. Mills, killed during World War II, will be laid to rest on January 7, 2020 at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

Born December 12, 1917 in Houston, Texas, Justin Green Mills was the 2nd of three children blessed to the union of Roger Quarles and Aline Mary (Ruiz) Mills.

Before his baby sister was born, the family moved to Grandpa and Grandma Mills’ farm in Lockhart. Jobs were tough to come by in those days though. Roger worked for a bit in Lockhart as an automobile mechanic and later surveying ship cargo in Galveston where he moved the family. After graduating high school, Justin returned to his grandparents’ farm. When Green passed in July of 1934, his namesake helped keep things running smoothly for his Grandma Mary.

Justin was already serving our country when Japanese Imperial Forces attacked Pearl Harbor. After high school, he’d joined the Marine Corps Reserves and earned some additional money as an office boy at the steam railroad where his father was a policeman. He later re-enlisted though in San Diego on June 9, 1942 and continued to advance through the ranks. When SGT Mills shipped out into the Pacific Theater, he was an absolute force to be reckoned with. His first taste of combat came at the Battle of Guadalcanal, where he would lead platoon - and fight along side them - valiantly. For his actions there, “Tex” was awarded the Silver Star.

The troops were sent to Wellington, New Zealand for some R&R and to await orders of their next mission. It’s no surprise that during his time there SGT Mills was promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant.

1LT Mills was with his brothers in Charlie Company, 1st Battalion of the 2nd Marines (C-1-2) 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 Justin - just 25 years old - perished. He was reportedly buried in Division Cemetery.

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 1LT Mills, and in October 1949, a Board of Review declared him “non-recoverable.”

Left to mourn his passing were Justin’s parents and sisters, Rita Aline and Lydia Marie. For their son’s courageous sacrifice, Mr & Mrs Mills received the Purple Heart; however, his body was never recovered and returned to them for burial.

In 2014, excavations by the private organization History Flight, Inc. located Cemetery 26 on Betio. In 2015, History Flight returned to Cemetery 26 and uncovered several sets of remains that corresponded to 1LT Mills' likely burial site. The remains were eventually accessioned into a DPAA laboratory in the U.S.

In late June of 2016, Justin’s surviving relatives were found and a niece was put in contact with the Marine Corps POW/MIA Section through whom she lovingly submitted a Family Reference DNA Sample in hopes that one day her uncle would be found.

1LT Mills was finally identified on August 19, 2019, and on September 25th the DPAA officially announced "Marine Corps Reserve 1st Lt. Justin G. Mills, killed during World War II, was accounted for".

Marine Corps 1LT Justin G Mills’ name is permanently inscribed on Court 4 of the "Courts of the Missing" at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific’s Honolulu Memorial (56125850, a cenotaph). A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate that Justin is no longer missing.

Jennifer Morrison, forensic genealogist
Marine Corps POW/MIA Section
American Battle Monuments Commission
DPAA Release No: 19-192 (Sept. 27, 2019)

Family Members

Gravesite Details Buddy's family plans to have him laid to rest in 2020.

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  • Created by: JSMorrison
  • Added: 4 Sep 2019
  • Find A Grave Memorial 202731585
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for 1LT Justin Green “Tex / Buddy” Mills (12 Dec 1917–20 Nov 1943), Find A Grave Memorial no. 202731585, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by JSMorrison (contributor 47978427) Burial Details Unknown.