Remains of GR Marine killed in WWII identified

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The remains of a fallen serviceman from West Michigan have been identified and will soon be buried back here at home.

Grand Rapids Marine Corporal Andrew Pellerito has been identified, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced Friday.

Pellerito was part of a force of Marines who landed on the small island of Betio in the Pacific on Nov. 20, 1943, during World War II. His crew was met with heavy fire from Japanese forces.

He was one of the 1,000 Marines killed that day. Two thousand more were badly hurt.

The Japanese on the island were virtually annihilated, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

Pellerito was 22 years old.

Pellerito was classified as “unrecoverable” for decades. In 2009, a nonprofit found a burial site on the island known as Cemetery 33. It was during the investigation into those remains and others that had been taken to the so-called “punchbowl” burial site in Hawaii that Pellerito was finally identified using DNA evidence.

He’s set to be buried Nov. 30 in Augusta, Michigan near Kalamazoo.

Family and funeral information can be found by calling the Marine Corps Casualty Office at 800.847.1597.

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