On June 5, 2020, Marine Corps Reserve PFC John Michael Fahy, 19, killed in World War II, was officially accounted-for. He will soon be returned to his family and laid to rest with full military honors.(DATE/LOCATION: PENDING)
Born July 16, 1924, in Leamington Spa, John Michael Fahy was the only child blessed to the union of British citizens Michael Joseph and Edna Ivy (nee Brigham) Fahy.
That December 5th, Mr Fahy walked off of the USS Celtic into the bustling New York harbor. He'd come to America hoping for new opportunities for his young family. His bride and baby boy would soon take the same long ship ride west to join him and start their new chapter together. They eventually settled in Southhampton, New York.
On April 2, 1942, the 68-1/2", 138 lbs, brown-eyed brunette walked into a New York City Marine Corps recruiting station and enlisted in the Reserves.
Private First Class Prince was with his brothers in Delta Company, 1st Battalion of the 6th Marines (D-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 22, 1943 (D+2 for the "Battle of Tarawa"), when young John - just 19 years old - perished. (Just days after the one year anniversary of his father's death.) He was reportedly soon buried on Betio Island - a temporary location chosen by his fellow Marines, the survivors of the battle, until the Fallen could be recovered and returned to their families.
Having a loved one away from home during the holidays is always trying; however, having a son or husband 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.
For his service and sacrifice, John's mother accepted his awards and decorations, including:
- Purple Heart
- Combat Action Ribbon
- World War II Victory Medal
- American Campaign Medal
- Marine Corps Presidential Unit Citation
- Asiatic-Pacific Theatre Campaign Medal
- Marine Corp Expeditionary Medal, and
- Gold Star Lapel Button.
Despite the heavy casualties suffered by U.S. forces, military success in 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 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, but PFC Prince’s remains were not recovered. On September, 30, 1949, a military review board declared John "non-recoverable".
On January of 2016, Jennifer Morrison, an independent volunteer forensic genealogist, found the family of PFC Fahy and put them in contact with the Marine Corps POW/MIA Section. This (re)established lines of communication with John’s family regarding the ongoing recovery and repatriation efforts, and offered his cousins the opportunity to coordinate and provide a Family Reference DNA Sample, should it be necessary for John's identification.
On June 5, 2020, the DPAA identified the remains of PFC Fahy, and the family soon received “The Call” from the Marine Corps POW/MIA Section with the good news.
John will soon be returned to his family and laid to rest with full military honors.
**Out of respect for PFC Fahy's family, additional details are pending his cousin's official brief from the Marine Corps POW/MIA (Repatriation) Section.**
Marine Corps Reserve Private First Class John Michael Fahy is memorialized among the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific's Honolulu Memorial. Although he has now been recovered and identified, PFC Fahy's name shall remain permanently inscribed with Court 2 of the "Courts of the Missing". A rosette will be placed next to his name to verify that John has finally been found (56129889, a cenotaph).
Marine Corps POW/MIA Section
DPAA Release No: 20-087 (June 23, 2020)
American Battle Monuments Commission
Jennifer Morrison, independent volunteer forensic genealogist
Note from the memorial maintainer:
I am grateful to Chuck Williams & Hattie Johnson (USMC POW/MIA Section) and the DPAA for their efforts in bringing my Marine home. “It takes a village!”
Michael Joseph Fahy
Gravesite Details Per FindAGrave guidelines, memorials 211741678 (final resting place, TBD) & 56129889 (cenotaph, Honolulu) should not be merged.