CHICAGO (CBS) — A 29-year old Marine from Chicago killed in action nearly 74 years ago will be buried next week with full military honors.
Jeri Heise never knew her father, Marine 2nd Lt. George Bussa. He was deployed before she was born, and she was 14 months old when he was killed in action in the Battle of Tarawa in December 1943, as part of the invasion of the Gilbert Islands in the Pacific during World War II.
“He knew I had been born, and I was mentioned in letters,” she said.
Approximately 1,000 marines and sailors were killed in the battle, and the Japanese forces on Tarawa were nearly annihilated.
Heise said her father previously was awarded the Silver Star after fighting in the Battle of Guadalcanal.
Two years ago, the organization History Flight discovered the remains of a burial site on the Tarawa atoll. DNA testing has helped to identify those remains, including Bussa’s.
“It’s absolutely wonderful. I feel very proud that I’ve been able to be part of this to bring him home,” said Heise, now 75.
Heise said she will meet her father’s casket when it arrives in Baltimore on Friday. Bussa will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Tuesday.
“That’s definitely going to be a special tribute to him, and all the other men and women who have been killed in any of our wars,” she said.
Last month, another marine whose remains were found on Tarawa buried in Elgin. Roland Schaede’s body also was positively identified as one of the 35 discovered by History Flight.
More than 73,000 U.S. service members still remain unaccounted for from World War II.