Remains of MIA Marine at Battle of Tarawa Found, Will Return to Bakersfield after 75 Years

On November 22, 1943, Private First Class Joseph Robert Livermore of Bakersfield lost his life to an enemy bayonet at the Battle of Tarawa. Until recently, he was listed as missing in action, but after the discovery of a mass grave this past March, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) positively identified remains as those belonging to the World War II marine.

Alongside local organizations and community leaders, Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) now wants to help bring closure to PFC Livermore’s loved ones by memorializing his life and service when his remains return to Bakersfield for burial at the Historic Union Cemetery in November.

Before enlisting in the military, PFC Livermore played football for East Bakersfield High School. Just days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the 19-year-old bravely enlisted to serve in the United States Marine Corps and was killed in the line of duty two years later. 

“PFC Livermore served our country with honor and integrity. He will be coming home to Bakersfield in November where he will receive the true hero’s welcome that he deserves. I am thankful and grateful that my office will be partnering with various veterans organizations to ensure the homecoming is an incredible experience for his family. They deserve nothing less,” said Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove.

“After decades of uncertainty, we are able to finally close a chapter of our lives and give my uncle a proper military funeral that he deserves. My uncle enlisted to serve our country after the attack on Pearl Harbor, died during combat and never came home. Our family cannot thank the multiple leaders enough who are working together to bring him home, including Senator Grove and her staff who have supported us every step of the way to make sure he receives a proper homecoming,” said Darrell Feliz, nephew of PFC Livermore.

“For more than 75 years, this brave American was buried in an unmarked grave. Now we can give him the proper peace he deserves. We are honored to assist and bring home the remains of PFC Livermore to his hometown to be laid to rest with his mother. Thank you to Senator Grove and the various veterans organizations who can make this dream a reality for the Marine’s family,” Griselda Hurtado, Association Manager for Historical Union Cemetery.