The bodies sunk in place were only ones that had washed well out into the lagoon, past the lip of the dished reef edge. When bodies were too badly decomposed it was impossible to recover them from the water; attempting recovery just made them fall apart. Some years ago I was granted access to a special collection of photos deemed too grisly to allow general access, mainly because publication would cause distress for anyone who recognized a person, and frankly because there are people who get off on such things (or so I was told). There was indeed some pretty awful stuff in there, including KIAs and wounds.
The chaplains kept notes on all they knew about the bodies, locations et cetera, but they are not very informative even if preserved.
At any rate I agree that the majority were probably buried on the island. You might get an estimate of lost bodies just from MIAs, but that still would not get you to an estimate of those KIA in the water.
I appreciate that explanation, and certainly it would have been a difficult number to calculate. It's interesting to me, however, that you don't even read that "hundreds" or "dozens" of marines were... more
As of today, the "Master Tarawa Casualty Database" used by researchers and investigators of the Chief Rick Stone and Family Charitable Foundation to assist the families of Tarawa MIA's, estimates the ... more
bodies "sunk in place" Ed Gilbert,Sun Apr 2 08:30
I can certainly see that bodies found floating in the lagoon beyond the reef might have been sunk, though of course there are many, many reports of Navy personnel using hooks to retrieve remains from ... more