Harry “Bud” Carlsen was born in Brookfield, Illinois, in January 1912. In 1941, he moved to California where he worked as an auto mechanic. Upon hearing about the attack on Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the Marine Corps.
Carlsen was a member of Company A, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Amphibious Tractor Battalion and was also the Quartermaster Maintenance Chief. Throughout the war, he participated in numerous amphibious landing assaults. At one point, he even contacted malaria, but continued to battle while ill.
He fought in the Battle of Tarawa Nov. 20, 1943, on the island of Betio, part of the nation of Kiribati. He was fatally shot after attempting to take out a Japanese machine gun nest. He was buried on the island and was supposed to be returned home after the war. However, identification records were lost and the remains of 550 Marines who were killed in the battle were unidentifiable. His body was transferred to National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii where his remains were labeled “Unknown X-82.”
After many years of testing and advances in DNA technology, “Unknown X-82” was officially identified as the remains of Carlsen in the summer of 2018. In October 2018, Carlsen’s remains were transferred back to his family in Arlington Heights, Illinois, where he received a proper funeral service. Carlsen was then buried Oct. 13, 2018, at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Illinois.
Of the 18,000 Marines who fought in the Nov. 20-23 Battle of Tarawa, over 1,000 died and 2,100 were wounded.
We honor his service.
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Editor: Jenna Robles
Fact checker: Brinsley Eriksen
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