The 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) Caisson Platoon; “The President’s Own” Marine Band; and Marines from the Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. (8th and I) conduct military funeral honors with funeral escort for U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Michael Kocopy in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, Jan. 30, 2020.
From the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency press release:
In November 1943, Kocopy was a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, while the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Kocopy was killed on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943. His remains were reportedly buried in the Central Division Cemetery on Betio Island.
In 1946, the 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company centralized all of the American remains found on Tarawa to Lone Palm Cemetery for later repatriation. However, almost half of the known casualties were never found. No recovered remains could be associated with Kocopy, and in October 1949, a Board of Review declared him “non-recoverable.”
In 2014, History Flight, Inc., a nonprofit organization, identified a site correlated with Cemetery 26. Excavations of the site uncovered multiple sets of remains, which were turned over to DPAA in 2015, where they were subsequently accessioned to the DPAA laboratory.
To identify Kocopy’s remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.
(U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser / Arlington National Cemetery / released)