Today, the DPAA announced that PFC Joseph Francis Boschetti, of Philadelphia, PA has been accounted for. Read their press release here.
Born to Rosario and Julia Boschetti on 12 November 1920, Joseph grew up in Philly’s Manayunk neighborhood along with his siblings – Nicholas, Christine, Mary, Peter, Eleanor, and Rosario, known as “Russ.” As a young man, Joseph worked for the Ketterlinus Lithographic Manufacturing Company at Fourth & Arch Street in Philadelphia’s historic downtown.
Boschetti left Ketterlinus in April of 1942 and enlisted in the Marine Corps. After training at Parris Island, he was sent for additional instruction in demolitions at Quantico, Virginia before being shipped across the country to join Company D, Second Engineer Battalion, part of the 2nd Marine Division. While stationed at Camp Elliott, Boschetti was transferred to Company C, and his unit was re-designated as the 18th Marines.
On 18 October 1942, Private Boschetti boarded the SS Matsonia at San Diego and left the United States. His company was attached to the 6th Marines, and would participate in the Guadalcanal campaign as combat engineers. Boschetti endured enemy fire and primitive living conditions, and emerged from his first battle as a private first class. He spent the balance of 1943 in New Zealand, alternately perfecting his military craft, going on liberty, and occasionally spending time in the hospital – possibly the result of a tropical ailment picked up in the Solomon Islands.
PFC Boschetti transferred to Company A, 18th Marines on 10 October 1943, shortly before shipping out for Operation GALVANIC – the invasion of Betio in the Tarawa atoll. The island had been intensively fortified by its defending garrison; combat engineers like Boschetti trained exhaustively to neutralize bunkers, machine gun nests, and strong points so that assault troops could advance.
The engineer’s work was among the most dangerous of all assignments under fire, and the 18th Marines suffered heavy casualties on Tarawa. One of their dead was 23-year-old Joseph Boschetti, who lost his life not long after landing on 20 November 1943. His body was collected and buried in a site known as the Central Division Cemetery just inland from Beach Red 2. His specific grave was not recorded, and post-war efforts were unable to identify his remains.
In January of 2017, the remains of “Unknown X-20” were disinterred from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific and sent to the DPAA laboratory for analysis. Based on anthropological evidence, as well as DNA samples submitted by a relative, “X-20” was formally identified as Joseph Francis Boschetti on 8 July 2019.
Welcome home, PFC Boschetti. Semper Fi.
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