After 74 years, Caribou WWII vet being returned home for burial

The family of WWII Marine Pvt. Alberic “Brick” Blanchette will finally have closure when his remains are flown to his hometown of Caribou for a Sept. 18 ceremony.

Officials with the federal Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency two years ago began exhuming the bodies of many of the more than 1,000 Marines killed during the relatively short Battle of Tarawa, a 76-hour conflict that occurred Nov. 20-23, 1943, in the Gilbert Islands, located in the Pacific Ocean between Papua New Guinea and Hawaii.

Recent advances in forensic technology allowed the DPAA to identify the remains of MIA military personnel and ultimately led to the identification of Blanchette’s remains in July.

Though Blanchette was only 19 when he died, he is still fondly remembered by family members who are relieved that his remains are coming home.

Jim McDonald, Blanchette’s nephew, said he was “ecstatic” when he heard the news in July.

“I was told he was a very kind and thoughtful person,” McDonald said of his uncle, adding that Blanchette was one of the first Eagle Scouts in The County.

Jim’s brother, Clement McDonald, is responsible for the final arrangements and is planning to fly from Florida for the mid-September burial ceremony. Additionally, Blanchette’s younger sister, Louann Rogers, is flying up from Louisiana for the ceremony.

According to an email from Clement, a rosette will be placed next to Blanchette’s name on the “Walls of the Missing at an American Battle Monuments Commission site,” to indicate that he has been found.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the Sept. 18 ceremony, which is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. at the Parish of the Precious Blood Holy Rosary Catholic Church’s Old Holy Rosary Cemetery in Caribou.

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