Governor and First Lady Honor Marine Pfc. John Saini


SACRAMENTO – On behalf of all Californians, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and First Lady Anne Gust Brown honor Marine Pfc. John Saini, a U.S. serviceman missing from World War II.

Last week, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced that Marine Pfc. Saini’s remains have been identified. He will be buried on Saturday with full military honors.

Marine Pfc. John Saini, 20, of Healdsburg, 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. Marine Pfc. Saini’s family will receive a letter of condolence from the Governor.


The following information was provided by DPAA:

In November 1943, Marine Pfc. Saini was assigned to Company H, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, which landed on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands in an attempt to secure the island. Marine Pfc. Saini died sometime 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. In 1946 and 1947, the 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company conducted remains recovery operations on Betio Island. On February 28, 1949, a military review board declared Marine Pfc. Saini’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 DNA Identification Laboratory used DNA analysis and material and circumstantial evidence in the identification of the remains.