Local vet’s remains return home 7 decades after death in WWII

Updated: Nov. 18, 2020 at 9:58 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (FOX19) - A U.S. Marine killed in the Pacific theater during world War II is finally home 77 years after his death.

Private First Class Frank Athon Jr. enlisted in October 1942, according to He died in action 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.

Ground-penetrating radar was able to find Athon’s remains earlier this year. They returned to the Tri-State by CVG Wednesday around 7 p.m.

His family says this finally closes a chapter of their history and fulfills a request Athon’s mother made to the Marine Corps before she died.

“It’s really nice to know that his mom got her wish to bring Frank home for burial,” a family member said. “He was her oldest son, and she found out about his death on Christmas Eve (...) and she took it very, very hard of course.”

Athon will be laid to rest with other family members at Mt. Moriah Cemetery in Withamsville on Saturday. He will be buried next to family.

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