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Whitwell soldier’s remains identified and returned home after 74 years

Whitwell, Tenn. — A World War II soldier’s remains have been identified and are being
returned home to Whitwell, TN.

The Remains of Cpl. Henry Andregg Jr. were
identified among over 500 previously unidentified remains left in the aftermath of intense fighting on the Island of Betio, Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands.

Cpl. Andregg was killed in action on November 20, 1943, in the initial assault.

On November 20, 1943, The United States launched Operation Galvanic, a military action to secure the Gilbert and Marshall Islands as a strategic stronghold for air and naval operations against the Japanese Imperial
Forces.

This operation began with the assault of Tarawa.  This action was the first of many in the strategic campaign for control of the Central Pacific Region.  It was the first time The United States had faced such fierce opposition to beach landings in the Pacific.

The Japanese forces had worked for over a year to heavily fortify the Island of Betio.  The island was manned by over 5,000 Japanese soldiers and Korean laborers.

The day of the initial attack, air support never materialized.  The orders were given to proceed with the assault, with United States Naval forces providing bombardment from their positions off the island.  Marine Corps amphibious tractors and Higgins boats began landing and assault operations.  Because of the reef around the lagoon and an unusual southerly tide, many of the amphibious tractors were caught on the reefs, while the Higgins boats were able to clear them and begin landing.

Marines in the amphibious tractors were forced to fight from their position, or wade nearly 600 yards to the beach. The battle raged for 76 hours, with the United states suffering over
3,000 casualties, with 1,100-1,200 killed on the first day of action.  2,233 casualties were Marines , 59 were sailors, totaling 3,407.  Of the
nearly 5,000 Japanese military and Korean laborers, only 146 survived the assault.

In the months that followed the action at Tarawa, The United states was able to mount a successful campaign for the Marshall Islands, from which attacks could be made on the Japanese forces, as well as the Japanese
mainland.  The islands taken in this action removed important harbors from the Japanese Imperial Navy, and gave the United States a platform to reach Tokyo with strategic bombers.
There were 5 temporary cemeteries constructed on the island of Betio immediately after the battle.

In 1946, the 604 Quartermasters received
orders to consolidate those 5 cemeteries into one, called Lone Palm Cemetery. In 1949/1950, those that remained unknown were moved to The Honolulu Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, where a memorial was erected.

In 2016, the POW/MIA Accounting Agency began the task of identifying the unknowns.  Cpl. Andregg was one of many that now can be brought home to rest in peace.

A public visitation will be held from 3:00 pm CDT until 7:00pm CDT Thursday, August, 24, and funeral services will be held 10:00 am CDT
Friday August 25 in the funeral home chapel of Reed Funeral Home, 11675 Hwy 28.

Burial will follow at Noon CDT in The Chattanooga National Cemetery, with full military honors.

The public, and service men and women are welcome to attend the visitation and services.  For those wishing to show support, the procession will leave from Reed Funeral Home at 11:00 CDT on Friday August, 25, and follow Hwy 28 to I-24, exiting at 180A and proceeding to Holtzclaw Ave before arriving at the Chattanooga National Cemetery at 1200 Bailey Ave, Chattanooga, TN.

 

Full obituary:

Cpl. Henry Andregg Jr., of Whitwell, TN, was killed in action in World War II, during the Battle of Tarawa, on the island of Betio,
Gilbert Islands, November 20, 1943.

Henry joined the Marine Corps on June 6, 1942, and was assigned to Company C, 2nd Amphibious Tractor Btn, 2nd Marine Division.

Corporal Andregg was among the first wave of heroic soldiers assaulting the island.  His remains were found and identified earlier this year.

He was posthumously awarded the Purple
Heart, and was memorialized as one of the missing Marines from the Battle of Tarawa at The Honolulu Memorial National Cemetery of the Pacific.

Corporal Andregg earned the following awards during his service: The Purple Heart for wounds recieved in action against the enemy, resulting in his death; The Combat Action Ribbon for service during World War II, The Presidential Unit Citation, awarded to 2nd Marine Division for their service on Tarawa during the period of November 20-24, 1943; The Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one bronze campaign star; The World War II Victory Medal; Rifle Marksman badge, and Pistol Marksman badge.

Cpl. Andregg was preceded in death by his parents, Henry Sr. and Fannie Ann Andregg; his sister Thelma Andregg, and his brother, Harry
Andregg.

Those left to cherish his memory included his sisters, Charlotte Webb, Naomi Dawson, Peggy Jenkins, Susie Wagner, Elizabeth Lasater,
and his brother, William Andregg.

Present survivors include nieces and nephews, Dorothy Rogers, Glenna Raulston, Drenda Van Hoosier, Tim Lasater, Nancy Harris, George
Wagner, Butch Andregg, Patsy Hubbard, and Peggy Wagner Kelly.

Funeral services will be held in the funeral home chapel on Friday, August 25, 2017 at 10:00 am CDT, with Rev. Brenda Woods officiating.

Cpl. Andregg will be escorted by 1st Sergeant William Conner, of Battery M, 3rd Btn, 14th Marine Division Burial will follow at Chattanooga National Cemetery with full military honors provided.

The family will receive friends on Thursday, August 24, from 3:00 until 7:00 pm CDT.

Online condolences can be made at www.reedfamilyfh.com.

The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Sequatchie Valley Honor Guard, P.O. Box 786, Jasper, TN, 37347

Services have been entrusted to Reed Funeral Home, 11675 Hwy 28, Whitwell, TN.  (423) 658-5516.

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