Remains of World War II veteran headed to Washington

Local News

WASHINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — After 76 years, the remains of a WWII veteran are making their way home.

On Thursday, a procession carrying the remains of Sgt. George Raymond “Bud” Reeser departed St. Louis Airport around 3:00 p.m. heading to Deiters Funeral Home and Crematory in Washington.

The procession is expected to pass through East Peoria on its way to Deiters Funeral Home and Crematory in Washington starting around 6:00 p.m.

Reeser served in the United States Marine Corps and was killed in action on Nov. 22, 1943 during the battle at Betio Island, Tarawa Atoll, and the Gilbert Islands at age 25.

Reeser was born on June 3, 1918 in Goodfield to the late Levi “Peck” and Esther Blain Reeser. The family later moved to 204 S. Wood St. in Washington where he worked at a local filling station prior to enlisting.

On Sept. 10, 1940, Reeser enlisted in Chicago as a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, achieving the rank of Sgt. With the 6th Marines, Reeser fought at Guadalcanal, and after taking leave in New Zealand, he was sent to secure Betio Island as part of the Battle of Tarawa.

After 76 hours of battle from Nov. 20-23, Marines secured the island, but 99 members of the 6th Marines sacrificed their lives in battle, including Reeser. He was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart for his actions at Tarawa.

According to found records, he and 33 other Marines were buried in Row D of the East Division Cemetery, later named Cemetery 33. In 1949, as repatriation efforts were concluding, his remains were officially declared non-recoverable.

In 2019, History Flight, Inc., a non-profit organization that specializes in research, recovery, and repatriating Missing In Action (MIA) servicemen, discovered a burial site at Betio Island that was later identified as Row D of Cemetery 33. Reeser’s remains were formally identified by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

Those that would like to pay their respects to Reeser can do so from 4:00 p.m. — 6:00 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25 at Deiters Funeral Home and Crematory in Washington. A graveside service will be held Saturday at 10:00 a.m. at Mt. Zion Cemetery in rural Deer Creek. Reinterment with full military honors rendered by the United States Marine Corps will follow.

Those wishing to send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Reeser can do so through the funeral home’s tribute store.

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