WWII Marine Buried With Utah Family After 76 Years

Dec 14, 2019, 6:03 PM | Updated: 6:05 pm

BOUNTIFUL, Utah – U.S. Marine Private 1st Class Robert James Hatch was laid to rest with family at the Bountiful Cemetery almost 80 years after he died fighting in World War II.

“It’s been 76 years,” said Tom Hatch, who is a nephew to Robert Hatch. “There’s been a hole in the family for years.”

Tom Hatch didn’t know “Uncle Jim,” but he’s heard the stories about how he died during the Battle of Tarawa and how his remains were lost with history.

“I do know it was painful, him not returning. My grandmother expressed that pain occasionally,” he said. “Not having her son’s remains returned after the war. It’s bad enough losing a son, but not having him return, was hard.”

Robert Hatch, who was born and raised in Davis County, was killed in 1943 and buried in a mass grave because of the fast-moving battle. The location of that grave was lost.

However, the nonprofit organization History Flight recently found and identified several remains at an island cemetery.

Those remains and information were given to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and Hatch was identified through dental, anthropological and chest radiograph comparison analysis.

When family members got word his remains had been discovered and identified, the hole in the family started filling in.

“My husband took that first call and he was stunned. He was like, can you repeat that?” said Cindy Hatch. “It has been an unbelievable thing for our family.”

Hatch was buried at the Bountiful Cemetery on Saturday between his mother and his brother Gene, who was also killed during WWII.

“While they offered to bury Uncle Jim in Arlington National Cemetery, which would have been a great honor for the Hatch family, we felt it more appropriate to bring him home to where he belongs,” said Tom Hatch during Saturday’s funeral.

Robert Hatch received a full military funeral with a bugler and gun salute while his family watched.

“He can now join the family,” said Tom Hatch.

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WWII Marine Buried With Utah Family After 76 Years