Press Release: Battle of Tarawa 75th Anniversary Ceremony and Rededication of the Honolulu Memorial Courts of the Missing November 19

Arlington, Va., Oct. 31, 2018  – The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) will host a ceremony on November 19, 2018 at 1 p.m. at the Honolulu Memorial, located within the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu. The ceremony will commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Tarawa and rededicate the memorial’s Courts of the Missing, which recently underwent a two-year $9.5 million dollar restoration project.  The ceremony is free and open to the public.

Also participating in the ceremony are the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) and the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA).

The Battle of Tarawa was a significant campaign fought in the Central Pacific Ocean during World War II. The Marine Corps faced stiff Japanese resistance when they landed on Tarawa Atoll on November 20, 1943.  Over the course of the three-day battle, the Navy and Marine Corps lost more than 1,600 men. Of these men, a significant number were considered missing in action or lost at sea.

ABMC’s Honolulu Memorial lists more than 18,000 Americans as missing in action, lost at sea or buried at sea in the South Pacific during World War II, to include those from the Battle of Tarawa. 

Following the ceremony, several families of recently accounted for MIA’s from the Battle of Tarawa will place a rosette next to their family member’s name on the Courts of the Missing. One of those family members, the daughter of Medal of Honor recipient Marine Corps 1st Lt. Alexander Bonnyman will be on hand to place the rosette. Bonnyman was accounted for in 2015 and is one of more than 80 Americans who were listed as MIA following the Battle of Tarawa and are now accounted for by DPAA.

The rosette is a small bronze ornament featuring a wreath of rosemary that signifies remembrance, and a compass to indicate our nation’s global efforts to account for American servicemen missing in action.

Following the ceremony ABMC Secretary William M. Matz, VA Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Randy Reeves, and DPAA Director, Kelly K. McKeague will be available for interviews. 

Interested media should contact one of the following for more information:

  • ABMC External Affairs – Tim Nosal, (703) 696-6789 or
  • National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific – Gene Maestas, (808) 543-8661
  • DPAA Public Affairs – Lt Col Ken Hoffman, (808) 448-4500 Ext 3150

About ABMC:
Established by Congress in 1923, the American Battle Monuments Commission commemorates the service, achievements, and sacrifice of U.S. armed forces. ABMC administers 26 overseas military cemeteries, and 29 memorials, monuments, and markers. To learn more about the Commission’s commemorative mission, visit

About NCA:
Established in 1973, VA’s National Cemetery Administration (NCA) operates 136 national cemeteries and 33 solders’ lots and monuments sites. More than 4 million Americans, including Veterans of every U.S. war and conflict, are buried in VA’s national cemeteries. VA also provides funding to establish, expand, improve, and maintain 111 Veterans cemeteries in 48 states and territories including tribal trust lands, Guam, and Saipan. For Veterans not buried in a VA national cemetery, VA provides headstones, markers or medallions to commemorate their service.  Information on VA burial benefits is available from local VA national cemetery offices, online at, or by calling VA regional offices toll-free at 800-827-1000. To make burial arrangements at any open VA national cemetery at the time of need, call the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 800-535-1117.

About DPAA:
DPAA’s mission is to provide the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel to their families and the nation. For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at, on social media at or call (703) 699-1420.