LIBERTY, MS (WAFB) - The day was brilliant with blue skies and sunshine as the Brown Funeral Home in Liberty, Mississippi greeted a steady stream of people all paying their respects to the family of Pfc. James Samuel Smith.
Smith's remains were discovered and traced back to his family from where he fell during World War II's raging battle at Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands.
Smith, who was 19 at the time, was with the U.S. Marines and had met combat already in the early days of the Japanese conflict. After a rest period in the Solomon Islands, he sent a letter home saying he was headed back to the front, this time at Tarawa. His parents did not hear from him again.
A cousin said his parents never heard what happened to him before they eventually died. However, his remains are now home.
Veterans wearing blue jeans and leather are part of the "Patriot Guard" and rode their motorcycles with the processional from the airport where Smith's remains arrived in Jackson, Mississippi. The Patriot Guard stood watch outside the funeral home as visitation continued.
When it came time to carry the casket to the cemetery, the graveyard was so close that the U.S. Marines loaded the flag-draped coffin in the hearse and the funeral party walked with the hearse to the burial site.
As the crowd gathered to say goodbye, there were numerous American flags and veterans military caps. The men who were Sam Smith's contemporaries are in their 90s now and not many are left.
Sam's cousins are in their 80s and were children when he left. The family is grateful and wishes Sam's parents could've seen the funeral and burial.
The U.S. Marines buried him with full military honors. They all said rest in peace for a native son, now home in a town called Liberty.