WWII Marine from Oelwein to be buried at Arlington
DES MOINES (AP) — A U.S. Marine from Oelwein who died fighting a World War II battle on a Pacific Ocean island is scheduled to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington today, the 73rd anniversary of his death.
Pfc. Wilbur Mattern, who was 23 when he died, had been unaccounted for since the Nov. 21, 1943, battle on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, located 2,400 miles southwest of Hawaii.
Family members say they believed he had floated out to sea and would never be found.
However, the nonprofit Florida-based History Flight Inc. found a burial site on Betio island in June 2015 recovering the remains of 35 Marines. Dental comparisons and other evidence identified Mattern's remains.