In World War II, a terrible battle took place in the Pacific on the island of Tarawa (tear-a-wah) where 1500 Marines and Sailors died in three days over 350 acres. 4800 Japanese soldiers were also involved. According to former Mammoth Police Sergeant Paul Dostie, they were buried in trenches and later covered by a concrete air strip. Dostie called it the biggest mishandling of American war dead. Dostie and his cadaver dog, Buster, were called in to help alert on locations of remains of the U.S. Marines. He said that now, people live on top of the graves but said Buster was able to alert to the already identified or suspected grave sites which have been GPS-mapped. Said Dostie, “Buster identified numerous single, mass and trench burials.”

Now, JPAC, which stands for Joint Prisoners of War Missing in Action Accountin will go to Tarawa in the fall to retrieve remains which will be taken to Hawaii and the central identification lab of the U.S. Department of Defense.

Inyo-Mono Congressman Buck McKeon had earlier posted a video to YouTube to honor Dostie for his work. The Congressman said Dostie volunteers his time to the Tarawa project to find the lost graves of fallen World War II heroes. Congressman McKeon said, “The Tarawa battle is one of the most significant burials of Americans in our war history.” McKeon called Dostie “a true patriot. He has followed the American military doctrine – Never leave a man behind.”

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