Nearly 75 years ago, Marine PFC. Emmett L. Kines was killed in WWII, he was 24. Kines and about a thousand other soldiers were quickly disposed of in a mass grave after fighting the Battle of Tarawa. Military officials had declared that his body was unrecoverable back in 1949.
But History Flight, a Florida-based nonprofit found Kines’ body along with 34 other Marines.
History Flight has predicted that around the island there are at least 43 temporary burial sites with up to hundreds of soldiers buried in each one.
So far, History Flight has identified hundreds of MIAs and plans to reunite more families with their loved ones. Kines’ remains were returned to his home in West Virginia on National POW/MIA Recognition Day.
His only remaining sibling, 90-year-old Betty Huffman, and other family members were there to receive him. Huffman told the Mountain Statesman that being a Marine was something Kines had always wanted to do.
Huffman recalled being with him all the time and said being on the farm with him were some of the happiest days of her life. Mark Noah, History Flight’s founder, said he feels that bringing these men home is like putting back a little bit of America.
The nonprofit is having a positive impact on American families. Noah explained that it is important that the families have closure and to restore the dignity of the missing soldiers. History Flight uses cutting-edge remote-sensing technology to find MIA loss sites.
The United States government stopped searching for the 78,794 missing servicemen from WWII in 1948.