TARAWA, REPUBLIC OF KIRIBATI (WUSA9) – They thought he was buried on a seashore resembling the solemn shores of Normandy – white crosses marking the lifeless on a sandbar U.S. Marines referred to as, “one sq. mile of hell.”
It was a Pacific atoll immortalized by photographs captured in LIFE Journal, an island the place Navy Corpsman Howard Brisbane misplaced his life to a Japanese sniper Nov. 21, 1943.
The telegram got here to the Brisbane Household simply days earlier than Christmas. Then got here the photograph of his resting place.
“I noticed the image the place the grave was, with the white cross that stated Brisbane,” remarked Howard’s niece, Judy Landry, in an interview.
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“In order that was the top of it. We by no means knew he was lacking in motion.”
However solely days after Brisbane died, his grave couldn’t be discovered.
His household by no means knew his white cross was gone. The Pentagon by no means disclosed his grave was underneath a parking zone – first paved by People as quickly as 1943.
The Brisbane Household solely discovered the reality after talking with WUSA-TV and the non-revenue group of anthropologists referred to as Historical past Flight.
“No one stated something a few parking zone till you stated it,” Landry advised WUSA-TV in June, hours after the Navy re-buried Brisbane in Arlington Nationwide Cemetery.
“I assumed it was a dignified burial grave. I had no concept it was a memorial website that doesn’t exist anymore.”
Why the Pentagon did not disclose essential particulars of the Brisbane burial website stays unclear.
However this month, officers indicated they’re unwilling to vary any coverage regarding how households of the fallen are knowledgeable.
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Interviews with relations, Protection Division officers and other people accustomed to the excavation of stays on Tarawa recommend a multi-tiered communication failure between the Pentagon and the household of the Navy sailor misplaced seventy four years in the past.
The Tarawa Atoll the place Brisbane died is now replete with the wreckage of conflict. Shelled bunkers and gun turrets are solely steps from shantytowns, trash pits, and American graves discovered beneath the sand.
Every American grave marker on Tarawa is now cleared – a reality protection personnel by no means informed the Brisbanes.
Six months after a prime DOD official was made conscious of the Brisbane state of affairs, no plans modified relating to what the Pentagon reveals about American burial websites.
“The truth that I solely came upon about this at present, it’s unbelievable,” stated Brisbane’s nephew John Bloemer in an interview. “That his memorial was wiped off the face of the earth so they might construct a parking zone. It’s unbelievable.”
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