Accounted For: John R. Bayens

This morning, the DPAA announced that PFC John Richard “Jack” Bayens of Louisville, Kentucky has been accounted for. Read their press release here.

Private Bayens shortly after enlisting in 1941.

“Jack” was born on 15 November 1923, and grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. He worked for the Strand movie theater as a teenager before enlisting in the Marine Corps on 27 August 1941, at the age of seventeen.

Private Bayens was on duty at a naval ammunition depot in Dover, New Jersey when World War II began. Late in 1942 he joined the 2nd Marine Division, serving first with the Second Tank Battalion and later with Company B, First Battalion, 6th Marines. “B/1/6” would become Bayens’ home unit, and he fought in their ranks during the Guadalcanal campaign.

Jack Bayens died on 22 November 1943, during the battle for Tarawa. His company, on the far right of the Marine line, was attacked throughout that night, and finally repelled an all-out banzai attack at 0400. Somewhere during the fracas, Bayens was hit and killed by shrapnel. “He died suddenly and with a smile on his lips,” wrote one of his buddies. “He was buried by some of his friends.”

The Louisville Courier-Journal, 20 December 1943.

Bayens’ burial site – “Row D” of Cemetery 33 – was located on Betio earlier this year by History Flight. His remains were exhumed and returned to the United States; official identification was made on 23 September 2019.

Welcome home, PFC Bayens. Semper Fi.

“Like many other families of our war dead, whose resting places are unknown, we find comfort in knowing that Louisville will have a permanent shrine in honor of our son and other heroes.” The Louisville Courier-Journal, 20 November 1947.

We are actively seeking information for PFC Bayens’ profile page.

Are you a family member or former comrade of this Marine? Do you have stories or photos to share? Please contact MissingMarines and help us tell his story.

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