DES MOINES — The remains of a Marine from Iowa soon will return to his home state 76 years after his death in World War II.
The Defense Department used DNA from a niece to identify the remains of Pvt. Channing Whitaker, 18, of Granger. Whitaker died Nov. 22, 1943, during the Battle of Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands in the South Pacific.
Whitaker’s niece, Marla Brubaker, tells KCCI it is a miracle that her DNA was able to identify Whitaker’s remains.
Archeologists have been working since 2009 to dig up and identify the remains of soldiers who were buried in a previously undiscovered burial trench in the Gilbert Islands.
Whitaker’s family will hold a funeral with full military honors Nov. 22 in Des Moines.