Fourteen days after his 20th birthday, Pfc. George Bernard Murray was killed by a gunshot wound to the chest on a remote island in the Pacific, 4,840 miles away from the small California town where he grew up.
He was buried in a grave next to the other 1,000 Marines and American servicemen killed during four days of fighting in November 1943 over control of the Tarawa Atoll island chain.
Over the next 74 years, their remains would be scattered and record of Murray’s final resting place lost.
Meanwhile, his family back home in Oceano waited for Murray’s body to be returned — a decades-long wait that will finally end Aug. 17.
A “great hunter,” Murray followed his father and other male relatives into the Marines in February 1943, a little more than a year after the United States joined the war.
He would only serve for nine months.
When he was sent to the island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll as part of the 2nd Marine Regiment, Murray arrived at one of World War II’s deadliest conflicts for a 76-hour span — some Marine commanders even likened it to battles at Gettysburg because of the loss of life.
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