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Return to Tarawa: The Leon Cooper Story (2009)

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A World War II veteran returns to the site of a battle in which he took part sixty five years earlier. He learns many disturbing things about that site. The remains of several hundred ... See full summary »

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A World War II veteran returns to the site of a battle in which he took part sixty five years earlier. He learns many disturbing things about that site. The remains of several hundred Americans still lie neglected and forgotten on that island. Also, there is live ammunition scattered everywhere on the densely populated island. Finally, huge piles of garbage lie on Red Beach, hallowed ground, where hundreds of Americans were killed and wounded by Japanese gunfire. Written by Leon Cooper

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A WWII veteran returns to his first battle site and discovers disturbing conditions







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15 January 2009 (USA)  »

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I've always thought there was something odd about Canadians
2 May 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Leon Cooper's message? Gladstone, England's 19th Century Prime Minister said, "One can judge the conscience of a nation by the recognition it gives to those who died for it." What is the state of America's conscience? The battle of "Bloody Tarawa" was fought sixty-five years ago, yet the remains of hundreds of Americans still lie in Betio, the tiny South Pacific island in Tarawa where the battle was fought--forgotten and ignored by our nation. Their relatives know only that these dead, who gave their lives in defense of America's freedom, are classified as MIA The Military Channel's "Return to Tarawa-the Leon Cooper Story" has served to expose this shameful chapter in America's history, causing the question to be raised: "How many more Tarawa's are there?" The answer: there are 45,120 WWII dead in the Pacific Theatre, a tally as of September 6, 2006, according to the Department of Defense. The Pacific War MIAs account for more than 55% of all of the 73,291 MIAs of WWII. These shocking numbers stem from the Defense Department's policy: "Most recent wars first." In order words, the Department gives first priority to the recovery and repatriation of dead from the current Iraq and Afghanistan wars. All of our nation's wars prior to Viet Nam are classified as "Ancient Wars." It is particularly contemptuous treat WWII MIAs as fossilized remains. The Defense Department's recovery rate of 0.2% per year "returns" simply emphasizes that contempt. One study has estimated that, at the Department's recovery rate, it will take more than 300 years to recover all of the Pacific War's "recoverables." Will the thousands of Americans who still lie where they fell in Papua New Guinea, in the Solomons, in the Marianas ever be returned to their homes?

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