After 76 years, Marine Corps Platoon Sgt. George E. Trotter has been found. Trotter was killed in the invasion of the Gilbert Islands off the coast of Japan in November …
After 76 years, Marine Corps Platoon Sgt. George E. Trotter has been found.
Trotter was killed in the invasion of the Gilbert Islands off the coast of Japan in November 1943 during World War II. He was among a group of Marines and sailors attempting to secure the island for Allied troops. His remains were buried in an island cemetery with many other of his fallen comrades and remained unidentified and unnamed for decades.
"I'm a believer now when [The Marines] say they never leave anybody behind," said Richard Gould, a Taos resident. "They have gone through great pains to figure all of this out."
Gould is the husband of Mary Gould, Trotter's great-niece and his oldest living relative.
Totter was escorted from the Albuquerque International Sunport to Taos via a motorcade of veterans and law enforcement Tuesday (Aug. 6).
Memorial services for Trotter will be held at 9 a.m. Friday (Aug. 9) at DeVargas Funeral Home and he will be laid to rest at the National Cemetery in Santa Fe with military honors that afternoon at 1:30 p.m.
The Goulds' learned of Trotter when their daughter Ashley was contacted by the U.S. Marines after turning in her DNA to an ancestry search company. After DNA test results related Ashley to Trotter, the Marines contacted Mary to ask if she would be willing to provide DNA. The results came back a "dead match," according to Richard Gould.
"We were stunned but at the same time, when you find family that you didn't know, family is family," Gould said.
Mary Gould was born two years after Trotter was killed, and had no knowledge of his existence in the family. Richard said the family has no living relatives who would know of his existence and the family is unable to get any more answers about his identity.
Trotter was born in 1905 in South Dakota and entered the Marines in 1927, according to Missing Marines, a project to track missing servicemen that was started by Geoffrey Roecker. By the time he was killed while serving as platoon sergeant in Easy Company, Second Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, he had already served 16 years with the Marines.
While the mission on the Japanese-controlled island was a success, Trotter was killed on the first day of the invasion at 38 years old. According to information about his service from his obituary, Trotter was shot on the island of Betio after his company landed on Red Beach. They were the first wave of troops to hit the beach.
He was among 1,000 Marines and soldiers killed in the assault, according to his obituary. Those who died on the island were buried in several battlefield cemeteries there. During recovery missions for remains in 1946 and 1947, Trotter was never identified in the island cemeteries. All of the unidentified remains were buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.
Among them was a set labeled Unknown X-055. DNA and dental records of those remains were able to match Trotter to an identity and a family and finally bring him home to the welcome of a hero. His name will come off the missing list and a rosette will be placed on his name at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, indicating he has been located.
Richard said Mary's father and his own both fought in World War II and the relatives have continued to honor the military throughout their lives.
Richard said he and Mary were honored to welcome their lost family member after all these years.
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