7 WWII Marines laid to rest at Arlington Cemetery

    2:43 PM, Oct 4, 2012   |    comments
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    A U.S. Marine band walks away after a group burial service for seven U.S. Marines killed in World War II, at Arlington Cemetery, on October 4, 2012 in Arlington, Virginia. The Marines died when their U.S. Navy bomber went down on an island in a remote part of the South Pacific. A U.S. government survey team spent more than a decade excavating the site for bodies, military equipment and wreckage remains. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

    ARLINGTON, Va. (CNN) -- Seven Marines who were declared missing in action from World War II were finally identified and put to rest Thursday when their remains were buried with full military honors in a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

    The burial came nearly 70 years after the soldiers died in active duty during the war.

    Family members of the seven Marines were presented with American flags and casings from rifles fired at the ceremony in honor of the soldiers. The ceremony was the culmination of over 13 years of efforts to recover and identify the remains from the site where the soldiers' aircraft crashed in 1944 on the island Espiritu Santo, what is today known as Vanuatu.

    Scientists in the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory and the POW/MIA survey team have been working since 2011 to excavate the crash site. DNA analysis allowed scientists to match DNA from the remains to that of the Marines' family members.

    The deceased Marines include: 1st Lt. Laverne Lallathin of Raymond, Washington; 2nd Lt. Dwight D. Ekstam of Moline, Illinois; 2nd Lt. Walter B. Vincent, Jr. of Tulsa, Oklahoma; Tech. Sgt. James A. Sisney of Redwood City, California; Cpl. Wayne R. Erickson of Minneapolis, Minnesota; Cpl. John D. Yeager of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Pfc. John A. Donovan of Plymouth, Michigan.

    The soldiers were buried in a single casket representing the crew. Six other Marines from the crew were identified and buried in individual caskets earlier this year.

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