NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — After one World War II Marine was correctly laid to rest in Middle Tennessee, historians continue to search for answers involving two Nashville Marines still missing in action.
In July 2021, the remains of Captain Glenn Walker were rightly laid to rest in Lebanon after other remains were mistakenly buried in his place. Earlier this year, Captain Walker’s family learned the remains of not one, but three Marines had been laid in Walker’s place for decades.
“I knew that there was so much chaos when those men were re-buried that it was certainly a possibility for the comingling of bones,” Captain Walker’s nephew, Lane Martin, said. “My grandmother and my mother and the rest of the family, they all thought that that was the right man and all, that that was their brother, their son that was buried there. Those men stood in the gap for my family until we could get Uncle Glenn back.”
Walker was one of roughly 1,000 soldiers killed during the bloody Battle of Tarawa. As Walker’s remains are correctly laid to rest, hope is renewed that other missing Marines from that battle might one day return home to Middle Tennessee.
For World War II historian Geoffrey Roecker, with missingmarines.com, finding these Marines is a personal mission.
“I do, I have that hope for all missing, honestly. My great grand uncle was lost off the USS Quincy off Guadalcanal,” Roecker said.
As he searches for answers with his uncle’s remains, two Nashville MIAs come to mind for Roeker — Noah Alvin Cox and Otto Reeder.
Private First Class Reeder moved around between Illinois, Missouri, and Maryland, and his parents moved to Nashville sometime around when he went to war.
| READ MORE | Latest headlines from Nashville and Davidson County
“He went ashore on D-Day on the 20th of November. He managed to survive for two days. He was killed by, reportedly by, a gunshot wound to the head on November 22nd,” Roeker explained.
Historians believe he was buried in Beach Green Sea Cemetery, the last mass gravesite from the battle of Tarawa yet to be found.
Marine Noah Cox, a Hume-Fogg High School graduate, also went to fight on D-Day, but his boat was held in reserve right off the shore.
“So, if you could imagine having to sit in a flat bottom boat in choppy water while everything is exploding all around you and having to put up with that for almost 24 hours, that will give you a little bit of an idea of what Private First Class Cox had to go through,” Roeker said.
After wading onto shore under fire, Cox made it on the island but later died from a gunshot wound to the head. His remains may be unmarked in the Division Cemetery, but it’s not clear if he was indeed found.
This was a tragic battle for all Tennesseans who fought, and historians explain graves often had to be dug quickly and in unbearable heat. However, they never give up hope of identifying the missing and bringing their families closure.