WWII Marine returns home after 73 years, family finds closure

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – A World War II Marine from Amite County lost his life in battle and after decades his remains return home.

A long awaited flight came in to the Jackson-Evers International Airport Saturday morning.

For 73 years, the descendants of Private First Class James Samuel Smith had not been united with his remains.

At the age of 18, Smith left his parents and siblings in Liberty, Mississippi to serve as a Marine in World War II; and less than two years later, he was killed in battle.

In 2012, Smith’s remains were found amongst his fellow Second Division Marines on a small island in the South Pacific Ocean.

The Marine Corp identified Smith by matching his remains with his nephew’s DNA.

“As a kid, we never knew much about this. I was born when he died,” said Carey Smith. “The grandparents, they worried, they never knew. I got more information now than they ever had until they died.”

Now 74 years after leaving to fight for his country, dozens of Smith’s family, and Patriot Guard members escorted him back to Liberty.

The official funeral will be held Monday at Brown Funeral Home in Liberty; services begin at 11 am.


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