Navy veteran gets overdue homecoming 75 years to the day of Pear - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Navy veteran gets overdue homecoming 75 years to the day of Pearl Harbor attack

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Wednesday marked the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. More than 2,000 service people died that day. Many remain unidentified.

But Navy Fireman First Class Jimmy Johnston's remains were identified.

"Generations hence will look back upon this day, realizing an American hero has come home," said an emotional Governor Phil Bryant.

People lined the streets of Wesson, Johnston's hometown, waving American flags. It's a show of patriotism that we rarely see. Many of those along the route are too young to have ever known Johnston or any of his family. But one fellow Navy veteran did.

"It was a small town and everybody knew everybody," said World War II Navy Veteran George Mercier.

Mercier didn't get the chance to say goodbye all those years ago.

"Jimmy and I went to join the Navy essentially at the same time," he explained. "I survived and he didn't. That's the way it was."

Whether those in attendance knew the family or not, the homecoming is a reminder of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

"Today is one of the most special days of my life," said Johnston's nephew Frank Springs. "We knew that Uncle Jimmy served at Pearl Harbor and was killed there. And we had come to accept the fact that he was not recoverable and he was buried in Honolulu."

Springs was one of two nephews who provided the DNA that helped identify the remains. That was the first step in making this military service possible.

"My job is to send all the repatriation of remains home and set them up," explained Petty Officer First Class Matthew Galbraith. "This time I was actually very fortunate enough to be one of the escorts to fly him home, all the way here."

Governor Bryant said there are still 700 Mississippians that remain unaccounted for from World War II.

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