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First Name: Michael

Last Name: Salerno

Birthplace: Philadelphia, PA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Home of Record: Rawnhurst, Philadelphia, PA
Middle Name: Leo

Date of Birth: 26 March 1924

Date of Death: 20 November 1943 (Presumed)

Rank: Private First Class

Years Served: early 1940's
Michael Leo Salerno

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


75 years after he was killed, remains of local Marine coming home Phila-PA Action News on April 25, 2019. PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. (WPVI) -- "When they called me and told me they identified him, I just screamed and cried," said Jean Roman. U.S. Marine Michael Salerno is finally coming home. His sister, Jean Roman, says the Chestnut Hill native enlisted in the U.S. Marines at the age of 19 in 1943. He was killed later that same year fighting the Japanese in the Pacific, during the Battle of Tarawa. It would take decades before they were reunited. Three years ago, the Armed Forces contacted Roman asking for DNA from both her and other family members. Then, finally, a match! Scientists identified her brother's remains in the fall of 2018. "When they showed me that picture, I just broke down," she said. "I just never thought that's all that would come home." Salerno's unidentified remains had been housed at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii since 1949. In that time, his parents have passed and all of his siblings who bid him farewell when he went off to war, are gone; except for Roman, who is now bracing of a homecoming she never thought would happen. "My mom always said after he passed away, 'He'll come around the corner, he's coming home!' So we are going to ride past my mom's house and we're going to bring him home," Roman said. Salerno's remains touch down Friday around noon. His family plans to bury him over the weekend next to his parents.

----- Salerno, nearly 19, left home in 1943 to join the U.S. Marine Corps. In a matter of months he was sent west to the war in the Pacific. His first battle came in what is considered among the toughest in Marine Corps history, the Battle of Tarawa. It was an atoll in the Gilbert Islands, a thin strip of land with an airstrip nearly 5,000 miles from the coast of California. The U.S. attacked on November 20, 1943, with Salerno's K-Company hitting the southwest corner known as Red Beach One. But the Japanese hit back, and in the span of 76 hours, the Marines lost 1100 men, one of which was Pfc. Salerno. He was reported Missing in January, 1944. The Marines accomplished their mission. But after the war only about half of the Americans killed on Tarawa were recovered. They identified all but 94 of them. Sadly, Salerno was one of the 94, just remains without a name. For 75 years he remained missing to his family. The Marine Corps Casualty Office in Quantico, Virginia reported that "He was killed by blast injuries".

Honoree ID: 101198   Created by: MHOH




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