Sacramento, California - On behalf of all Californians, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and First Lady Anne Gust Brown honor Marine Reserve Pvt. Donald S. Spayd, a U.S. serviceman missing from World War II.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) has announced that Pvt. Spayd’s remains have been identified and that he will be buried on September 13 with full military honors.
Pvt. Donald S. Spayd, 19, of Los Angeles, CA, bravely gave his life in service to our state and nation and the Governor and First Lady extend their deepest condolences to his family and friends. In memorial, Governor Brown ordered that flags be flown at half-staff over the State Capitol. Pvt. Spayd’s family will receive a letter of condolence from the Governor.
In November 1943, Pvt. Spayd was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, which landed on the island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands in an attempt to secure the island. Pvt. Spayd died on the first day of battle, November 20, 1943.
In the immediate aftermath of the fighting on Tarawa, U.S. service members who died in the battle were buried in a number of battlefield cemeteries on the island. On February 28, 1949, a military review board declared Pvt. Spayd's remains non-recoverable.
In June 2015, a nongovernmental organization, History Flight Inc., notified DPAA that they discovered a burial site on Betio Island and recovered the remains of what they believed were 35 U.S. Marines who fought during the battle in November 1943. The remains were turned over to DPAA in July 2015.
Scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used DNA analysis and material and circumstantial evidence in the identification of the remains.