Governor and First Lady Honor Marine Pfc. Donald R. Tolson


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

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) has announced that Pfc. Tolson’s remains have been identified and that he will be buried on December 2 with full military honors.

Marine Pfc. Donald R. Tolson, 20, of Bakersfield, 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. Pfc. Tolson’s family will receive a letter of condolence from the Governor.


The following information was provided by DPAA:

In November 1943, Pfc. Tolson was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, which landed on the island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands in an attempt to secure the island. Pfc. Tolson was killed 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. The 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company conducted remains recovery operations on Betio between 1946 and 1947, but Pfc. Tolson’s remains were not identified.

From February to July 2017, DPAA, through a partnership with History Flight Inc., returned to Betio to conduct excavations of osseous remains through advanced investigative techniques. Scientists from DPAA used dental, anthropological and other analyses, as well as circumstantial and material evidence, in the identification of the remains.