Charles Donald "Satchy" Miller was a U.S. Marine who was killed in action during the Battle of Tarawa on Betio Island of the Gilbert Islands, now part of Kiribati. His remains were identified on May 19, 2020.
Charles Miller was born to Donald "Don" Miller and Mrs. Lucille Brown on October 5, 1924 in Albany, Indiana. He was the older of their two children. He attended the Albany Elementary School, Delta Middle School, and graduated Delta high School in 1942. At school, he was a member of the Albany basketball team for three years and he also played shortstop on the Albany Doodlesockers baseball team.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Miller was "fired up" and determined to join the United States Marine Corps Reserves. He joined them in Indianapolis, Indiana as a Private First Class in Alpha Company, 1st Battalion of the 6th Marines (A-1/6) of the 2nd Marine Division.
Battle of Tarawa
The 2nd Marine Division landed on Betio Island on November 20, 1943 as part of Operation Galvanic, the U.S. Invasion of the Gilbert Islands. The mission was to take control of the airfield on the Tarawa Atoll so that Japanese Imperial Army would be less close to the United States and the United States would be closer to Japan. Most of the fighting would occur on Betio Island as it was the largest of the islands on Tarawa Atoll. This battle would prove critical for the American offensive and the first time they faced serious Japanese opposition as they were well-supplied and prepared and fought to the last man standing. On November 22, 1943, the third day of the battle, Miller was killed enemy gunshots to his head and chest.
The day after Miller was killed in action, U.S. Forces would take over the island. Overall, 1,696 U.S. Marines were killed and 2,101 were wounded and 4,690 Imperial Japanese Army soldiers and construction laborers were killed and 146 were captured.
After his death, Miller was awarded the following medals: the Purple Heart, the Combat Action Ribbon, the World War II Victory Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the Marine Corps Presidential Unit Citation, the Asiatic-Pacific Theater Campaign Medal, the Marine Corp Expeditionary Medal, and the Gold Star Lapel Button. The awards were accepted by his father.
His father also had a memorial marker for his son placed at the Strong Cemetery in Albany, Indiana in the event his son’s remains were found and returned home.
Miller's remains were recovered and buried in Row D of Cemetery 33 on Betio Island. However, they were not recovered when the 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company conducted remains recovery operations between 1946 and 1947. In 1949, a military review board declared him non-recoverable.
His name is inscribed within the Courts of Missing in Row 4.
On January 22, 2014, Jennifer Morrison, the Chair of the Rolling Thunder Indiana Chapter 1 FRS Committee at the time, found Miller’s family and put them in contact with the Defense POW/MIA Accountng Agency. They provided DNA samples in the event that Miller’s remains were identified.
In 2019, History Flight Inc. recovered Miller's remains from Row D of Cemetery 33 on Betio Island. The remains were sent to a DPAA laboratory and based on historical records, circumstances, and DNA evidence, confirmed the remains belonged to "Satchy" Miller on May 19, 2020.
Miller will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.