SNEEDVILLE, Tenn. - A U.S. Marine Corps private is being remembered 75 years after his death.
Governor Bill Haslam and Department of Veterans Services Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder are recognizing the service and sacrifice of U.S. Marine Corps Private First Class William Franklin (Frank) Cavin of Hancock County.
Cavin was killed at the age of 18 in the Battle of Tarawa on November 20, 1943. He was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division on Betio Island.
According to reports, Cavin was among 1,000 Marines and Sailors killed during the World War II battle with the Japanese.
After the battle, service members were buried in cemeteries on the island, and in July, 2013, History Flight, Inc. found remains in Cemetery #33 and turned them over to Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA).
The remains were buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific as Tarawa Unknown X-032; however, on March 13, 2017, DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System exhumed the remains to identify them, and on April 23, 2018, they were confirmed to be Cavin’s.
“Frank was not even 17 years old when he enlisted in the Marine Corps to serve his country,” Haslam said. “This native Tennessean was clearly born with the Volunteer Spirit, and we are proud to welcome him home.”
“The Battle of Tarawa is more than a legendary piece of World War II history,” Grinder said. “The pain of those lost still lives with us today. However, Frank Cavin will no longer lie under a headstone marked Tarawa Unknown X-032. This hero will be laid to rest with full honors, under a headstone with his name, among his family.”
Cavin’s remains will be transferred to the McGhee Tyson Airport. A graveside ceremony will be held at the Overton Cemetery in Sneedville on Saturday at noon.
Governor Haslam has declared a day of mourning from sunrise to sunset on Saturday in honor of Cavin’s sacrifice.
He is survived by his niece, Faye Bozeman; cousin, Claude Cavin; cousin, James Cavin; niece, Sheila Kunkel; and nephew, Steve Sessoms, as well as several great nieces and nephews.