Emporia Prepares to Honor Hometown Hero Killed in Action in 1943

Posted on Sep 13, 2021

The public is invited and encouraged to participate in honoring Private First Class (Pfc.) Glenn White who will be reunited with his family and returned to his hometown of Emporia, Kansas, on Friday, September 17, after almost 80 years.

Pfc. White was mortally wounded on the island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands in an attempt to secure the small island against the Japanese in World War II. During  several days of intense fighting 1,000 marines and sailors were killed as well as 2,000 wounded. Pfc. White’s remains were buried in a mass grave, #26, Row D of the East Division Cemetery, on the island, which later became known as one of Tarawa’s “Lost Cemeteries.” Pfc. White was declared “non-recoverable” in 1949.

A burial site believed to be Cemetery 33, formerly known as East Division Cemetery, was discovered in 2009 by History Flight, Inc. a nonprofit organization that researches, recovers, and repatriates America’s missing and killed in action service members. Excavations west of Cemetery 33 revealed a previously undiscovered burial site in 2019, that was later identified as Row D. Pfc White’s official identification was announced by the Department of Defense on June 7, 2021.

Pfc. White was born in Emporia, Kansas on July 27, 1924. He was 19 years old when he died for his country. He received the Silver Star posthumously for his brave actions and extreme courage.

A press release from American Legion Post 5 in Emporia provides the following information:

On September 17th, Pfc. White will be repatriated to his family in a private ceremony at Kansas City International Airport shortly after noon. An escorted procession will then proceed via I-435, I-35, and 6th Avenue in Emporia to Roberts-Blue-Barnett Funeral Home with a planned arrival time between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. The public is encouraged to honor Pfc. White and this Gold Star family anywhere along this route. Emporia-area residents can join in a flag line East of Roberts-Blue-Barnett Funeral Home along 6th Ave.

On September 18th, at 10:30 a.m. Pfc. White will be escorted from the Roberts-Blue-Barnett Funeral Home to Maplewood Memorial Lawn Cemetery. They will proceed West on 6th Ave., to Prairie Street, then continue North to the cemetery. The public is welcome and encouraged to pay their respects anywhere along the route. A graveside service will occur at 11:00 a.m. Military honors, to include a “Missing Man” fly-by will be provided by the Marine Corps.