MONROE, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - A sailor killed 75 years ago in World War II is finally back home in Georgia.
Seaman Deward W. Duncan, Junior was killed in action in the South Pacific in December. The Monroe native was 19 years old. For decades, his family thought the sailor had been lost at sea.
"When the Navy reached out to us in January, we were really surprised. We couldn't believe it because all these years my mom had been told he died at sea. So to find out he was coming home was just incredible," said his niece Darlene Phillips.
Duncan was assigned to Aviation, Construction, Ordnance, Repair, Navy Fourteen, Standard Landing Craft Unit 4 when a Japanese air raid dropped a bomb near his tent Jan. 14, 1944. Duncan's name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing, along with others killed or lost in WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
On Wednesday, Duncan's remains were flown to Atlanta, where they were later escorted to the Rest Haven Cemetery in Walton County. Duncan will be buried with full military honors on Saturday in his family's plot.
"I never imagined anything like this could ever happen, especially on D-Day. This would mean so much to my mother because she always talked about him and even had a headstone for him and case he made it home. Obviously, there was never a casket there, but now he can be laid to rest next to his sister. It's just awesome. It's emotional, but it's awesome," said Phillips from her home in Jackson.
A graveside service will be held Saturday at Rest Haven Cemetery located at 200 N. Madison Avenue in Monroe with full military honors.
The Associated Press contributed to this report