ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (WLS) -- A U.S. Marine from Brookfield finally returned home Wednesday - 75 years after he shipped off to fight in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II.
A special honor mission was held Wednesday afternoon for technical sergeant Harry "Bud" Carlsen, who was killed in action in 1943.
Ed Spellman never got the chance to meet his great uncle.
"We care very much about Uncle Bud. To have him identified and returned to us is very meaningful," he said.
Carlsen was killed in action during the Battle of Tarawa, on the tiny island of Betio. His unidentified remains had been buried in Hawaii.
Spellman's mother sent a DNA sample to the Department of Defense 10 years ago, trying to find Carlsen's remains. She died in 2012 before a positive identification was made.
"We talked about it a lot," Ed Spellman said of his mother. "I told her I would continue with the chase."
He got the call of a lifetime in July.
"Of course it was just overwhelming at that point. You just can't believe that it's really happening," he said.
Members of the Patriot Guard escorted Carlsen's remains from O'Hare to the Glueckert Funeral Home in Arlington Heights.
"It's an extreme honor, which is why the Patriot Guard exists. Our primary focus is honoring military killed in service of our country," said Dave Gier, a member of the Guard.
Tens of thousands of families of fallen WWII military service members are still waiting to have a moment like this one.
"I would go out into the living room and just Google his name and hope something would come up," said Jane Hilmer, the deceased's niece. "But I actually at times gave up, and I want to tell other people that's not a good thing, you can't give up."
Carlsen will be buried at Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood on Saturday.
U.S. Marine returns home 75 years after being killed in action