LARNED — On Thursday, Feb. 1, the Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced a World War II Marine from Larned had finally been accounted for. Believed killed on Nov. 20, 1943, Krieger was the first casualty of WWII from Larned. Within moments, social media lit up with comments of hope to the family and expressions of gratitude to the soldier thanking him for his service and his ultimate sacrifice.
“Marine Corps Pfc. Jack H. Krieger, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for,” the statement from the DOD said.
“In November 1943, Krieger was assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 18th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Krieger died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943.
“DPAA is grateful to History Flight, Inc., and the Department of Veterans Affairs for their partnership in this mission.
Interment services are pending; more information will be released 7-10 days prior to scheduled funeral services.
Krieger’s name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, along with the others missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.”
According to Krieger’s casualty card, he was born Aug. 19, 1915 at Larned, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Harvey L. Krieger. He was 27 years old at the time of his death. A memorial grave had been created for him at the Marine cemetery at Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands. It was noted that the field board had determined his remains were unrecoverable on Oct. 7, 1949.
Katherine Rasdorf is one of the searchers affiliated with History Flight. She explained the “unrecoverable” determination was commonly provided at that time in order to allow family members to access death benefits.
“There were over 450,000 men killed during World War II, and around 73,000 were never recovered,” she said. “The declaration was for administrative purposes.”
History Flight, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit foundation dedicated to finding, recovering and repatriating America’s war dead to American soil. Since 2006, History Flight has sent over 100 search and recovery teams all over the world to locate and recover missing U.S. military personnel. History Flight deploys cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary remote-sensing methodologies and has recovered the remains of more than 60 MIA personnel in the past several years, as well as locating remains associated with some 200 U.S. service personnel. While Krieger’s remains were exhumed from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii where he was buried as an unknown, the efforts on the ground in Tarawa helped lead to that discovery, Rasdorf said.
Larned has not forgotten Krieger. The family entrusted many of his personal effects, as well as newspaper archival information about his military service, to the Santa Fe Trail Center, and an exhibit was shown in recent years. According to Becca Hiller, museum director at the SFTC, she has been in contact with family members following the DOD release. The news has been welcome, she said, and the family is taking time to consider next steps.