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Marine killed in bloody WWII battle ID'd, remains head to Altoona

| Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016, 12:50 p.m.

ALTOONA — The remains of a U.S. Marine killed in one of World War II's bloodiest battles have been identified and are returning to his family in Pennsylvania.

The POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced Monday that Nicholas Cancilla, of Altoona, will be buried on Nov. 7 in his hometown with full military honors.

Cancilla was 18 when his battalion stormed the remote Pacific atoll of Tarawa.

More than 990 U.S. marines and 680 sailors died and almost 2,300 were wounded in one of the first major amphibious assaults in the Pacific.

Cancilla was one of hundreds of U.S. Marines buried anonymously after the fight.

In June 2011, a non-governmental organization notified the U.S. they discovered a burial site on Tarawa's Betio Island. In 2012, a government team excavated the site and recovered three sets of remains, including Cancilla's.

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