PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Millions of Americans served in World War II and thousands of them never came home.
One local family had all but given up hope of finding the remains of their loved one, but that all changed Monday when they finally laid him to rest.
It’s taken nearly 75 years, but a Marine from Pittsburgh who died during World War II was finally laid to rest with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
Edwin Jordan was just 17 years old when he was killed in November 1943 during the Battle of Tarawa.
He was one of 1,000 U.S. Marines and sailors who died in that conflict. Many of them were buried in battlefield graves on an island in the Pacific Ocean.
A few years after the war, some of the remains were recovered and brought home, but Jordan’s remains were declared non-recoverable until last year.
“History Flight and DPAA did a remarkable job at getting him home and getting him identified,” Jordan’s niece Nancy Erwin said.
Scientists used dental records and other techniques and finally made a positive identification last September.
“Every emotion you could possibly have went through me,” Erwin said. “I was happy and sad and relieved and shocked and very proud, very fortunate.”
Erwin says her family had been looking for his remains for decades.
“I think that’s what every military person deserves and wants, is to know that, regardless, somebody will find them,” she said.
Jordan already had a headstone at Arlington, but now, with his remains finally there, his family feels he can truly rest in peace.
“I think my dad and my aunt would be very proud of what’s happened today with everybody that was involved and how everybody came together to make sure this could happen at some point for Edwin,” Erwin said. “I’m just very proud.”