On October 21, 2014, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC, now DPAA) identified the remains of Captain Richard William Vincent, missing from World War II.
Captain Vincent, who joined the U.S. Marine Corps from Massachusetts, served with Company D, 2nd Battalion, 18th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, during the Battle of Tarawa. On November 20, 1943, the U.S. Marine 2nd Division and the U.S. Army 27th Infantry Division landed on the Tarawa island of Betio, and Capt Vincent was killed by an enemy gunshot during the day’s intense fighting. In the immediate aftermath, he was buried in an expedient battlefield cemetery on Betio. Subsequently, U.S. Navy Combat Engineers significantly restructured the landscape to improve a Japanese airstrip for American military use, and this work involved moving and altering battlefield cemeteries. In 1946, when U.S. Army Graves Registration Service personnel attempted to locate and exhume battlefield interments, many men including Capt Vincent were not recovered or identified. In 2013, the private organization History Flight excavated a coffin from a burial site at the edge of the wartime Cemetery 33 on Betio, and the remains inside were those of a U.S. Marine. The remains were accessioned and turned over to JPAC analysts who used modern forensic techniques and identified Capt Vincent from them.
Captain Vincent is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.