Iowa Marine's remains come home Wednesday, 76 years after death

This undated photo provided by the Department of Defense shows Marine Corps Pvt. Channing Whitaker. Whitaker's remains will soon return to his home state of Iowa 76 years after his death in World War II. The Defense Department used DNA from a niece to identify the remains of 18-year-old Pvt. Whitaker, of Granger, Iowa. Whitaker died on Nov. 22, 1943 during the Battle of Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands in the South Pacific. (Department of Defense via AP)
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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCCI) - The family of an Iowa Marine who died during a World War II battle will welcome home his remains Wednesday.

Pvt. Channing Whitaker, of Granger, Iowa, died on Nov. 22, 1943, during the battle of Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands in the South Pacific. The Defense Department used DNA from a niece to identify his remains.

Station KCCI reports Whitaker's only living brother will welcome the remains.

Since 2009, archeologists have been working to dig up and identify the remains of soldiers who were buried in a previously undiscovered burial trench on the Gilbert Islands.

According to KCCI, Wednesday marks exactly 76 years since Whitaker entered the battle. He will be laid to rest on Friday.

Whitaker was 17 years old when he joined the Marines.