Local vet’s remains recovered 7 decades after death in WWII

WWII vet's remains recovered seven decades after killed in action in Pacific

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - A Tri-State family is reveling in the recovery of a combat veteran who was killed in action in 1943.

Private First Class Frank Athon enlisted in October 1942, according to findagrave.com. He died just over a year later in November 1943 during the Battle of Tarawa, which was fought — and pivotally won — over the Gilbert Islands.

Athon was 29 years old.

He was reportedly buried on Betio Island, a temporary battlefield cemetery. A few years later, a recovery operation failed to locate Athon’s grave. He was declared “non-recoverable” by a military review board in 1949.

“I remember my grandmother praying that he would be brought home, but after 50, 60 years, you kind of never think he is going to come back,” Athon’s great-grandnephew Steve said.

But recently, ground-penetrating radar was able to find Athon’s remains and they will be sent back to his family in the Tri-State.

They say he will be laid to rest with other family members at Mt. Mariah Cemetery in Withamsville or at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

Copyright 2020 WXIX. All rights reserved.