Seventy-seven years after he was killed on the tiny Pacific Ocean islet of Betio by defending Japanese forces during World War II, the remains of U.S. Marine Corps Private Howard E. Miller were scheduled to come home today. According to available military records, Miller, a San Mateo High School graduate who also attended what was then San Mateo Junior College, died in action Nov. 22, 1943. He was buried in an isolated, makeshift cemetery on Betio, part of the Tarawa atoll. Over time, the unmarked cemetery, and the American fighting men who perished during the fierce battle to secure Tarawa for the U.S. war effort, had become obscured. Proof of their selfless sacrifice seemingly had been lost. They had become missing in action. Decades later, the site was rediscovered. Miller’s remains, along with those of other slain Marines, were finally identified in March of this year by the Defense Department’s POW/MIA Accounting Agency. The invasion of Betio was a particularly bloody and brutal one for the Marines due to serious problems with planning, preparation, intelligence and other factors (not the least of which was the unrelenting, in-depth resistance of the dug-in Japanese defenders) that severely hampered them once the amphibious operation directed at the Tarawa atoll and its vital military airstrip commenced. A recent bulletin from “Missing Marines” indicated that Miller was born in 1921 in Michigan. The family moved to San Mateo County in the 1930s. After the war began in December of 1941, Miller volunteered to serve with the Marines in August of 1942. He married Elizabeth Jane Bettinger in October of that year at St. Matthew’s Catholic Church in San Mateo. An infantryman, he shipped out with the Marines in June of 1943. On New Year’s Eve 1943, the Navy Department informed his wife and family that he had been killed in action. The information did not include where or how he had died or where his body had been laid to rest. Miller’s remains are scheduled to be interred at Skylawn Memorial Park off State Route 92 in San Mateo on Friday. Among those in respectful attendance are expected to be his sister Charmaine Rush, his nephew Barry Rush and his niece Marcy Silva.