Remains of PFC returned home to Blue Island 73 years after battle

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A 73-year journey came to an end Friday when the remains of a high school senior, who had gone off to join the Marines and fight in World War II, finally came home. (WLS)

A 73-year journey came to an end Friday in Blue Island when the remains of a high school senior, who had gone off to join the Marines and fight in World War II, finally came home.

Blue Island residents came out as the Patriot Guard motorcycle riders led the way and the fire department unfurled an immense American flag for PFC Charles Oetjen, 73 years after he fell in the Battle of Tarawa, an island in the pacific.

A member of History Flight, the organization dedicated to finding the remains of missing U.S. Military, described the aftermath of that battle.

"We lost 1100 marines and corpsmen," said Paul Schwimmer of History Flight. "It was so hot, they just bulldozed trenches, laid them there, our boys were put in ponchos."

Last year, 36 sets of remains, including those of Charles Oetjen, were brought back to the base in Dover to be identified.

Charles Oetjen was just 18 years old.

Oetjen's second cousin said he will be buried near his father, mother and grandparents on Saturday, reunited with his family.
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newsmarinesBlue Island
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