Marion WWII veteran laid to rest in hometown after 76 years

Local News

A Marion World War II veteran’s remains were burried at his hometown on Thursday. 

Marine Corps Pvt. Fred Freet (Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency) 

After 76 years, family and supporters gathered the Marion National Cemetery on Thursday for the burial of Marine Corps Private Fred Freet. Marines from the Grissom Air Reserve Base conducted a 21-gun salute, and the flag from the casket was carefully removed and folded before being presented to Freet’s half-brother Roger Covey. 

Pvt. Freet fought in Japan during the Battle of Tarawa on the Gilbert Islands. He was part of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division and was sent to fight on the island of Betio.

Freet, an 18-year-old from Marion, was killed in action November 20,1943 during the first day of battle. His body was not identified and was burried in a temporary cemetery on Betio. 

According to a release from Grissom Air Base, Freet’s remains were identified by the U.S. Navy in 2018.

A Marine Corps honor guard from Grissom Air Base participated in the dignified transfer of Freet’s body from the airport on Tuesday. Several of Freet’s relatives were at the airport for the transfer to show their support for his ultimate sacrifice. 

According to the release, Freet was posthumously issued the Purple Heart for wounds received in action resulting in his death, the Combat Action Ribbon for service during World War II and The Presidential unit citation amongst others.

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