They came from every state in the nation, from every conceivable type of home, from colleges and the CCC. Most were in their late teens or early twenties. They fought on land, at sea, and in the air. They called themselves Marines and corpsmen, “Devil Dog” and “Doc,” gyrene, swabbie, buddy, Mac, Sir, “Pop,” “Chicken,” Swede, Red, Dusty, any nickname they could imagine and many long forgotten. They died far from home, in jungles, on beaches, trapped within sinking ships or burning airplanes. They were buried, if they could be buried, in solitary graves, temporary cemeteries, or where they fell. And more than three thousand of them lie there still.
Their families were left with government telegrams, some personal effects, a few photographs. Never enough to replace their loved one, but enough to sustain the hope that he might be alive, somehow, and would come back if only they waited long enough. So they wrote letters, made inquiries, and held on. Some waited a year and a day. Some waited until the war was over. Some waited the rest of their lives. Some are still waiting.
There are many database sites that one can search for names or serial numbers. MissingMarines aims to tell the stories of these men, to preserve their legacy, to bring closure to their families, and serve as a resource for the organizations working to bring them home.
Names & Faces
Marines Archie Shelton and Robert J. Brown at Cavite Navy Yard, 1941.
Brown was killed in action on Bataan in 1942; his remains were never found after the war.
Shelton was captured on Corregidor and died in a Tokyo POW camp in 1945. Photograph courtesy of Andrew Brown.
Browse the names of more than three thousand servicemen.
2Lt. James H. Marmande and PFC Edby M. Colvin take off from Midway.
Neither Marine returned from their mission over the Japanese fleet Photograph: Still frame from John Ford’s “The Battle of Midway.”
Three months before Pearl Harbor, two Marine aviators took off from Ewa Field and vanished into the blue Hawaiian sky.
Nine months after the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay, a veteran fighter pilot took off from a new escort carrier and vanished into the blue Hawaiian sea.
Between the disappearance of Sergeants Yentoch and McMahon and the accidental death of First Lieutenant Larche, hundreds of incidents cost the lives of thousands of Marines and corpsmen. The stories of their last days paint a unique picture of the human cost of war.
Note: “Last Days” are determined by the last date an individual was seen alive.
“Declared dead” dates may differ.
A burial ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery for five Marines
recovered from Guadalcanal in 1972.
A dog tag in a stream on Saipan. Bones in a foundation on Guadalcanal. Map-matching on Betio. The twisted remains of an airplane lost and found and lost again for decades. The search for missing servicemen is a long, painstaking, sometimes frustrating, and occasionally overwhelmingly rewarding.