OAK HILL, WV (WOAY) – A Marine killed during World War II has been identified as a man from Fayette County and was buried in Oak Hill this past weekend.
Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Joe Lukie, 19, of Harvey, West Virginia, accounted for on Sept. 5, 2017, was buried October 27, in Oak Hill, West Virginia. In November 1943, Lukie was assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Lukie died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943.
Despite the heavy casualties suffered by U.S. forces, military success in the battle of Tarawa was a huge victory for the U.S. military because the Gilbert Islands provided the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet a platform from which to launch assaults on the Marshall and Caroline Islands to advance their Central Pacific Campaign against Japan.
To identify Lukie’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) DNA analysis, dental, anthropological and chest radiograph comparisons, which matched his records, as well as circumstantial and material evidence.
DPAA is grateful to the Department of Veterans Affairs for their partnership in this mission
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently, there are 72,787 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Lukie’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the NMCP, along with the other MIAs from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.