Half-Staff Alert for September 18, 2017
For Maine

Governor Paul R. LePage has directed that all United States and State of Maine flags be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Monday, September 18 in memory of U.S. Marine Corps Private Alberic Blanchette.

Pvt. Blanchette was killed in action on November 20, 1943 on the island of Tawara in the Gilbert Islands, Kiribati, during World War II. He will be buried with full military honors on Monday at Holy Rosary Cemetery in Caribou.

“Ann and I are honored to welcome home the remains of Private Blanchette after 74 years of being missing in action,” stated Governor LePage. “Every person who has served our nation deserves to be honored for their service, especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. We hope the identification and return of his remains serves as a comfort to his family and all those who remember him.”

Alberic Blanchette was born on May 31, 1924 and resided with his family in Caribou before entering the military. He was assigned to Company B, 1st Marine Raider Battalion Amphibious Force Atlantic Fleet and fought in the battles of Tulagi Island, Savo Island and Guadalcanal.

He was then assigned to the 3rd Battalion, Company “K” 2nd Marine Division. His unit landed with the first wave of Marines in an amphibious landing on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands as part of Operation Galvanic. The Marines were fiercely fought by well-supplied Japanese forces. Although the American forces won the battle, approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded during three days of fighting.

Pvt. Blanchette died sometime on the first day of battle at the age of 19 and was declared Missing in Action. He was awarded the Purple Heart. His remains were identified earlier this year by the federal Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, whose mission is to provide the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel to their families and the nation.

**When flown at half-staff or half-mast, the U.S. flag should be hoisted first to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff or half-mast position. The flag should again be raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day.

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